After Shooting, Hands Up Becomes Protest Gesture

Governor pleads for calm in Ferguson, Mo.

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 13, 2014 5:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Protesters infuriated by the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., have adopted a new protest gesture: the "hands up" gesture witnesses say 18-year-old Michael Brown was making when he was shot dead in the street. Protesters have been using the gesture to confront police, putting their hands up and chanting "Hands up! Don't shoot," the Los Angeles Times reports. "If you're angry, throw your arms up," the Rev. Al Sharpton told supporters. "If you want justice, throw your arms up. Because that's the sign Michael was using. ... We want answers why that last sign was not respected."

After two nights of rioting, the St. Louis suburb was restless again last night, with tear gas fired into a crowd of protesters, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A man who allegedly pointed a handgun at police was shot and critically wounded, but it's not clear whether the incident was related to the nearby protests. At a church meeting last night, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called for calm, saying, "We stand together tonight, reeling from what feels like an old wound torn open afresh," the AP reports. At another church rally, Sharpton also called for calm—but urged police to release the name of the officer who shot Brown. Ferguson police say they decided against releasing the name of the officer, who witnesses say is white, after receiving death threats. The community is around two-thirds black, but there are only three black officers on its 53-member police force.

Police in tactical gear stand in a street in Ferguson yesterday.
Police in tactical gear stand in a street in Ferguson yesterday.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Protestors drop to their knees and put their arms in the air during a rally for Michael Brown yesterday.
Protestors drop to their knees and put their arms in the air during a rally for Michael Brown yesterday.   (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Laurie Skrivan)
This undated photo provided by the Brown family shows Michael Brown.
This undated photo provided by the Brown family shows Michael Brown.   (AP Photo/Brown Family)
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