Hands Up, Don’t Shoot?

On November 30th, five players on the St. Louis Rams entered the field with their hands in the air referencing the “hands up don’t shoot” gesture that has been receiving a lot of attention in recent weeks. This salute began after the recent events of the Michael Brown Case. For those of you who might not be informed of the Michael Brown Case (I’d be surprised if you aren’t), I’ll give you a quick recap.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams

St. Louis Rams demonstrating hands up, don’t shoot

Michael Brown was an 18 year old from Ferguson, Missouri. On August 9th, Michael and a friend robbed a convenience store a few blocks away from Michael’s house. On the walk back, Darren Wilson, a Ferguson Police Officer, is responding to the robbery call and stops Michael because he fit the profile of the perpetrator. Based on witness reports, it seems that all of the stories confirm that this is the true story. After Officer Wilson stops Michael is where the stories don’t match up. In the official case report, it specifically states that as Wilson opened his door to approach the two, Michael slammed the police car door on him. Moments after, Michael reached into the car and began punching Wilson through the car window. Officer Wilson pulled out his gun and repeatedly ordered Michael to stop and step back, also threatening that he was going to shoot. Here, Michael Brown was quoted saying, “you’re too much of a f***ing pussy to shoot me.” The case report also mentions that Brown initially began running away, allowing Wilson to step out of the car, but then turned around and started running back towards Officer Wilson. After countlessly ordering for Michael to freeze, Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown.

Where the story became controversial when some of the witnesses claimed that Michael Brown immediately obeyed Officer Wilson, got on both knees with his hands in the air, and pleaded, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot.”

The gesture is said to bring awareness to police brutality within the United States, and I respect the freedom of speech about controversial topics such as the Michael Brown Case. However, I personally do not condone the fact that thousands of people are walking around with their hands up insinuating that all police officers have their fingers on the trigger with the intentions of shooting innocent people. Yes, I do agree that there is the slightest bit of police brutality still within the United States, but nevertheless it is still police brutality. But the majority of our police force, and possibly almost all of the individuals within it, aim to make our cities safer for citizens like us to live comfortably and confidently. Policemen didn’t enter the police force and swear to protect and serve just so they can go around killing innocent people.

The St. Louis police force is furious with the five Rams players calling their actions tasteless, offensive, and inflammatory… and I sort of agree with them. Professional athletes are some of the most looked-up-to people around the world. Millions of kids are idolize them by watching and studying their every move. In my opinion, professional athletes probably should not have participated in this way and possibly chose another outlet to promote positivity, but then again, it is their freedom of speech and they are entitled to acting as they choose.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King explains in his Letter From Birmingham Jail that protests, peaceful and/or violent, are able to unify hundreds of thousands of people who are geographically divided. This is certainly the case for the “hands up don’t shoot” protests across the United States. However, I definitely would think Martin Luther King would be disappointed in the way that the protesters are handling the situation. In tens of cities, these protestors are looting, destroying, and burning small business in their furry of the Michael Brown incident. Dr. King would have preached peaceful protests, not complete anarchy.

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One comment

  1. nicolesigmon · December 8, 2014

    The reason that people are protesting isn’t because they think there’s a pandemic of high police brutality, it’s because in those few instances of police brutality you did mention, it’s almost always against people of color. Yes, the general majority of police officers don’t use brutal force and honestly want to protect and serve, but the general majority is not the entirety. There is racism everywhere in the United States, and that doesn’t exclude the police force. Racial profiling is a practice utilized in many precincts across the country, and THAT’S why people are protesting. Because being black in this country means that the chances of you being stopped by police is exponentially higher than if you were white. You’re right, athletes have millions of kids idolizing and looking up to them, and what these five Rams players did is something those kids should be proud of. Whether or not you agree with the statement they made, they stood up for what they believed in, and that takes bravery. Consequences athletes face in the name of activism can run from losing sponsors to losing their position on their team, and risking that to stand up for injustice is something that, in my opinion, should be admired.

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