Roorda and the Rams

1 Dec

Outgoing local state representative Jeff Roorda, who also serves as business manager for the St. Louis police union, is in the news again in that latter capacity as it relates to Ferguson. After five Rams players gave the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture before Sunday’s football game, Roorda responded with indignance:

The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.

Now, a lot of people will agree with this part of the statement. But as was typical in his political career, Roorda went over the top:

I’d remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser’s products. It’s cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it’s not the NFL and the Rams, then it’ll be cops and their supporters.”

Here, Roorda is suggesting that everyone who disagrees with the grand jury decision (and I think it is safe to say the case was handled in a bizarre manner by prosecutors) is on par with criminal looters.

Roorda was incensed that the Rams and the NFL would tolerate such behavior and called it remarkably hypocritical…The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology.

This is interesting. The “hands up” gesture was carried out by five players on their own. The team and league were not involved; you could say the players were rogue, in that respect. Well, as we know, part of Roorda’s job is to defend rogue cops, such as Rory Bruce, who decked a handcuffed suspect right in the face. Did Roorda or the police union apologize for this? No. Was Bruce disciplined? No (well, he was fired, but cleared of assault charges). Why should the NFL “deliver a very public apology” when Roorda won’t apologize for police misconduct?

I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Well I’ve got news for people who think that way, cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours.

This is reminiscent of when St. Louis cop Keith Novara called a protestor’s employer in October in a clear attempt to get her fired or at least intimidate her and curtail her protests. Roorda of course defended the officer:

Novara’s speech was protected under the First Amendment and that he was only “setting the record straight on public statements made by people spreading irresponsible lies and calling for violence against the police.”

I disagree completely that what Novara did was covered by the First Amendment. But Roorda needs to learn that just because you may have a right to free speech, it’s not always best to exercise it. As Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post points out, Roorda’s statement only made the Rams’ players protest a bigger story than it otherwise would have been. She also discusses the 1st Amendment in her column.

The Post-Dispatch‘s Tony Messenger has a wish:

Roorda has said before, and said again today, that he wants to be part of the solution in Ferguson. He said on CNN that “I mean we’re ready to engage in a dialogue with leaders from communities of color.” However, I would argue that he is the last person that would have any credibility on this issue, or any ability to bridge divides.

Here is a CNN clip from today that I enjoy. You only have to watch the first minute or so.

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