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ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Police Officers Association called for five NFL players to be punished Sunday after the men displayed the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture associated with protesters in the Michael Brown shooting case.

St. Louis Rams players Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt all used the gesture while walking into their home stadium ahead of a game against the Oakland Raiders.

In a furious 518-word complaint, the police officers group accused the players of ignoring “mountains of evidence” and called their display “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.”

“I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights,” SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda said in the statement. “Well, I’ve got news for people who think that way: Cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours.”

The statement goes on to call some Ferguson protesters “violent thugs” and demand that the NFL make a “very public apology.” It also demands that the players be punished.

“As the players and their fans sit safely in their dome under the watchful protection of hundreds of St. Louis’s finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer,” the statement reads. “That is way out of bounds, to put it in football parlance.”

The “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture has been used during the past several months by people protesting the August killing of an unarmed 18-year-old by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. Many protesters believe that Brown had his hands up when he was shot, while Wilson testified that Brown was actively attacking him at the time.

A grand jury opted last week not to pursue criminal charges against Wilson. He subsequently resigned from the police department.

The full text of the statement is available at KDSK.