'Hands Up' players to attend Ferguson Christmas party
By Stephanie Baumer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams are following through on plans to aid residents in nearby Ferguson.
The five players who did the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture before a recent home game are scheduled to appear at an Urban League of St. Louis Christmas Party on Friday for residents of Ferguson and north St. Louis County.
Tight end Jared Cook and wide receivers Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens will attend after practicing for the home finale against the New York Giants on Sunday. The group is contributing $10,000 to purchase gloves, hats, socks, underwear, non-perishable food items, detergent, personal hygiene items and 200 coats that will be distributed at the event.
The Rams and the Urban League anticipate attendance of 250-300 for a party that will also include food and games.
The day after players posed during introductions before the Rams' 52-0 victory over the Raiders, Cook promised the team would do more to help those affected by rioting and protests. There's been much strife in the St. Louis suburb since early August, when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white.
Violence and protests spiked anew after a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson on criminal charges.
Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree and Cardinals Hall of Famer Lou Brock appear on a video on the Urban League website seeking holiday season donations. Later Friday, the Urban League scheduled a Toys for Ferguson event.
Earlier this month, the franchise made a $50,000 donation to a local police charity after the players' protest drew the ire of local law enforcement officials. A check was presented before last Thursday's home game against the Cardinals to the Backstoppers, which provides financial assistance to families of police officers, firefighters and paramedics killed in the line of duty.
The "hands up" gesture has become the rallying cry of protesters in Ferguson and around the nation.