Hands-up gesture animates Ferguson protests

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St. Louis Rams - Ferguson - 11/30/2014
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Hands-up gesture animates Ferguson protests
Members of the St. Louis Rams raise their arms as they walk onto the field during introductions before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub (8) fumbles after being sacked for a 10-yard loss by St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. The Raiders recovered the fumble and the Rams went on to win 52-0. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
St. Louis Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, left, runs past Oakland Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew after intercepting a pass and running it back 43 yards for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. The Rams won 52-0. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
St. Louis Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) is congratulated by teammates James Laurinaitis (55) and T.J. McDonald after intercepting a pass and running it back 43 yards for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. The Rams won 52-0. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub, right, is sacked for an 8-yard loss by St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, left, during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. The Rams won 52-0. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub (8) tries to throw before being sacked for an 8-yard loss by St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, left, during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Oakland Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Members of the Oakland Raiders sit on the bench during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn forces Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub (8) to fumble during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. The Rams recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason, left, scores on an 8-yard run as Oakland Raiders free safety Charles Woodson defends during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, center, is sacked for an 8-yard loss by St. Louis Rams defensive end William Hayes, left, as Rams' defensive tackle Michael Brockers (90) gets in on the play during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes, left, is flipped into the air by St. Louis Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines, right, after catching a pass for a 6-yard gain as Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree, center, gets in on the play during the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
St. Louis Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, left, runs behind teammate James Laurinaitis, right, after intercepting a pass during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
St. Louis Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, left, is congratulated by strong safety T.J. McDonald after intercepting a pass during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr throws during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin celebrates after scoring on an 18-yard touchdown run during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin, left, is picked up by teammate Rodger Saffold after scoring on an 18-yard touchdown run during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill, center, is congratulated by Lance Kendricks, left, and Tim Barnes after scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill throws during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey, right, catches a 34-yard pass as Oakland Raiders strong safety Brandian Ross (29) and Miles Burris (56) watch during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin, left, runs into the end zone past Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden for an 18-yard touchdown run during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Matt Schaub #8 of the Oakland Raiders fumbles the ball after being sacked against the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Matt Schaub #8 of the Oakland Raiders looks to pass against the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Zac Stacy #30 of the St. Louis Rams is tackled by Charles Woodson #24 of the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Matt Schaub #8 of the Oakland Raiders passes against the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Tre Mason #27 of the St. Louis Rams scores a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Rodney McLeod #23 of the St. Louis Rams returns an fumble against Andre Holmes #18 of the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Marcel Reece #45 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by Michael Brockers #90 and Mark Barron #26 of the St. Louis Rams in the third quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Matt Schaub #8 of the Oakland Raiders passes against the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Tre Mason #27 of the St. Louis Rams celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Head coach Tony Sparano of the Oakland Raiders looks on from the sideline during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Shaun Hill #14 of the St. Louis Rams passes against the Oakland Raiders int he second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Tavon Austin #11, Jared Cook #89, Chris Givens #13 of the St. Louis Rams pay homage to Mike Brown by holing their hands up during their pre-game introduction against the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Shaun Hill #14 of the St. Louis Rams is introduced prior to playing against the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Rodger Saffold #76 of the St. Louis Rams is introduced prior to playing against the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by James Laurinaitis #55 of the St. Louis Rams in the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Tavon Austin #11 of the St. Louis Rams runs up field after making a catch against Tarell Brown #23 of the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Andre Holmes #18 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by E.J. Gaines #33 of the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Matt Schaub #8 of the Oakland Raiders fumbles the ball after being sacked by Robert Quinn #94 of the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Andre Holmes #18 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by E.J. Gaines #33 of the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: T.J. McDonald #25 of the St. Louis Rams looks on during pre-game warm-ups prior to playing against the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Alec Ogletree #52 of the St. Louis Rams looks on during pre-game warm-ups prior to playing against the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Tre Mason #27 of the St. Louis Rams scores a touchdown against Brandian Ross #29 and D.J. Hayden #25 of the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Rodger Saffold #76 and Tavon Austin #11 of the St. Louis Rams celebrate Austin's first quarter touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: E.J. Gaines #33 of the St. Louis Rams returns an interception against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Robert Quinn #94 of the St. Louis Rams rushes the passer against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Shaun Hill #14 of the St. Louis Rams scores a touchdown against Denico Autry #96 of the Oakland Raiders int he first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders looks to pass the ball against the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Jared Cook #89 of the St. Louis Rams fails to make a catch against \029n\ of the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Trumaine Johnson #22 of the St. Louis Rams returns an interception against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Five St. Louis Rams players entered the football field with their hands raised. A day later, people walked out of work or school showing the same gesture of solidarity with Ferguson protesters.

The pose has come to symbolize a movement, even though witnesses offered conflicting accounts of whether 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in August.

The power of the symbol was evident again Monday. Protesters across the country walked off the job or away from class in support of the Ferguson protesters. Walkouts took place in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere.

At the University of Missouri-St. Louis, not far from Ferguson, sophomore Amber Whitaker was among about 30 students who chanted "Hands up. Don't shoot!"

Whitaker, who is white, said the symbolism is what matters, not whether Brown literally had his hands in the air.

"There are black men and women who are shot with their hands up," Whitaker said. "There are black men and women who are shot unarmed. It may not apply exactly to Mike Brown, but it still happens."

The exact circumstances surrounding Brown's death will forever be in dispute. Wilson, who is white, shot and killed Brown, who was black and unarmed, on Aug. 9. A grand jury's decision last week not to indict Wilson set off renewed protests, some of which turned violent.

Wilson told the grand jury that he shot Brown in self-defense. But several witnesses said Brown had his hands up in surrender. Within hours, "Hands Up. Don't Shoot!" became the rallying cry for protesters.

Witness accounts contained in thousands of pages of grand jury documents reviewed by The Associated Press showed many variations about whether Brown's hands were actually raised - and if so, how high.

Some people were offended by the hands-up gesture.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association said the display by Rams players Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Jared Cook and Chris Givens was "tasteless, offensive and inflammatory."

The group, joined by the St. Louis County Police Association, met with Rams leaders Monday. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said during a news conference Monday that neither the team nor the NFL will discipline the five players for the gesture.

Fisher said it was his players' "choice to exercise their free speech" and that he would not comment further on their actions. He did say he plans to talk with the players, who are all black, but those conversations will remain confidential.

The NFL issued a one-sentence statement from spokesman Brian McCarthy: "We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation."

In Springfield, Missouri, Rodney Shetler, watched the players' action from his home. He said the move was "in pretty poor taste" and was divisive and disrespectful to law enforcement.

"It's a gesture proven by the grand jury not to be appropriate or accurate," said Shetler, the 44-year-old owner of a copying and printing business.

A similar episode unfolded more than four decades ago at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

John Carlos, the American 200-meter bronze medalist, set off a political firestorm on the medal stand when he and teammate Tommie Smith gave the black power salute. He stood by the Rams players.

"If they choose to come out and raise their hands in support of whatever their emotions are, they have the right to do that," Carlos told The Associated Press. "I don't think the whole story has been told about the Michael Brown tragedy, and the pros and cons on both sides. They can just go by their emotions. I don't think anyone got injured or shot by expressing emotions."

The White House on Monday announced the conclusion of a three-month review of the Ferguson situation. President Barack Obama wants more officers to wear cameras to promote trust, but he is not seeking to reduce federal programs that provide the type of military-style equipment used to dispel the unrest in Ferguson and elsewhere.

Brown's family wants to see every police officer working the streets wearing a body camera.

Also Monday, the Ferguson Commission appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon met for the first time. The 16-person panel will study the underlying social and economic conditions - from failing schools to high unemployment- that have gained attention since Brown's death.

About 80 residents attended the group's first session, a five-hour meeting devoted primarily to organizational issues.

As the meeting lingered, several audience members ran out of patience, angrily imploring commission members to discuss practical solutions, not murky goals and vision statements.

"People have waited for three months stewing in anxiety and pain," activist Charles Wade told the panel.

The panel includes a Ferguson construction-supply company owner, two pastors, a university professor, a community activist and a St. Louis police detective who is also president of the state chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. Two of the 16 members were in Washington meeting with Obama.

Nixon dropped plans Monday for a special legislative session to approve additional spending for the state's public-safety response to protesters in the St. Louis area. The governor reversed course after lawmakers said he could tap into an existing budget for the State Emergency Management Agency to cover the costs of the National Guard and Missouri State Highway Patrol.

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The "Hands-up. Don't shoot!" gesture that five St. Louis Rams made during pregame wasn't the first time athletes have used their platform to make political statements.

Here's a short list of some of the most famous moments:

8 PHOTOS
Sports and political gestures
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Hands-up gesture animates Ferguson protests
The most iconic moment of them all. American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos took to the medal stand at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 and raised their gloved fists _ the Black Power salute. It was a time of enormous racial tension in the United States, and the gesture was front-page news in hundreds of newspapers. The athletes were booed out of the stadium and expelled from the Olympics. (AP Photo)
Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall started to pull a black-and-white glove out of his shirt, designed to honor Barack Obama shortly after he was elected President in 2008. But a teammate stopped him, fearing he might draw a penalty. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade got the Heat to pose for a team picture with all the players wearing hoodies, the same thing Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was shot to death in 2012. (AP Photo/LeBron James via Twitter)
Not so much a political expression as a religious one. While at Florida, Tim Tebow liked to etch bible chapters into his eyeblack, a practice he couldn't continue in the NFL, which banned such expressions. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin, File)
In response to the passing of a state law many saw as anti-Hispanic, the owner of the Phoenix Suns had his team wear their jerseys that said "Los Suns" at a home game in 2010. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Soccer player Nicolas Anelka was banned for five games for performing a gesture known in France as a "quenelle" _ described as an inverted Nazi salute _ during a game last year. He was later fired by his team, West Bromwich. Other soccer players, including Paolo Di Canio and Giorgos Katidis, have also been suspended for fascist salutes. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
During pregame introductions Sunday, Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt were joined by Jared Cook, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens, all of whom raised their hands in a show of support for protesters in Ferguson, Missouri _ a suburb of St. Louis. Last Monday, a grand jury there decided not to charge the white officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, who was black. Some witnesses said Brown had his hands up before being shot, although others disputed that. Brown had been unarmed. "I don't want the people in the community to feel like we turned a blind eye to it," Britt said. "What would I like to see happen? Change in America." (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
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