Michael Brown's Death

Michael Brown's Death

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Updated Jan 08, 2020 at 05:27AM EST by Y F.

Added Aug 11, 2014 at 01:06PM EDT by Molly Horan.

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Overview

Michael Brown was an African American teenager from Ferguson, Missouri fatally shot by St. Louis Police Department officer Darren Wilson during a physical altercation that took place on August 9th, 2014. The teenager’s death, which happened less than a month after the controversial death of Eric Garner, instantly prompted backlash in the social media against police brutality and racial profiling, similar to the large-scale protests that erupted in the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Background

On August 9th, 2014, Michael Brown,[1] an eighteen-year-old African American, was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was unarmed at the time of the shooting. On August 10th, Jon Belmar, the police chief for St. Louis County, stated that Brown was shot after assaulting a police officer and attempting to gain control of officer's gun. Belmar also announced the launch of an internal investigation about the shooting per request from Ferguson's police chief.

Notable Developments

#MikeBrown

The hashtag #MikeBrown was introduced by Twitter user Twists_nd_turns[2] who listed it with a collection of names of young men killed by the police, including Trayvon Martin.


Briana J * Follow @Twists_nd_turns #MikeBrown #JohnCrawford #EricGarner #TrayvonMartin #MichaelDunn #JordanDavis #OscarGrant #KendrickJohnson among so many more.. わReply Retweet ★ Favorite More RETWEETSFAVORITES 21 5:57 PM-9 Aug 2014

The hashtag and surrounding discussion was covered by many websites on August 10th, including Bustle[7] and Christian Science Monitor[8]. Within 48 hours the hashtag[3] was tweeted out over 130,000 times.

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown

On August 10th, Twitter user CJ_musick_lawya[5] introduced the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, which African American twitter users can use to post to pictures of themselves, one featuring a very positive, accomplished image and one that could be perceived as negative based on negative racial stereotypes.


YoungGifted&Black @cJ_musick_lawya Follow Yes let's do that: Which photo does the media use if the police shot me down? #lfTheyGunnedMeDown わReply Retweet ★ Favorite More RETWEETS FAVORITES 1,994 1,075 2:34 PM-10 Aug 2014 Flag media

The hashtag was meant to criticize a picture of Brown NBC News tweeted[6] earlier on August 10th, which seems to portray Brown negatively based on racial stereotypes.


NBC News& @NBCNews 塩Follow NBC NEWS Unarmed Missouri teen killed by officer after 'physical confrontation' nbcnews.to/XaZEd Reply Retweet ★ Favorite More RETWEETS FAVORITES 552 97 :04 PM-10 Aug 2014 Flag media

CJ_musick_lawya's original tweet gained over 1,000 retweets within 24 hours, and the hashtag[4] was retweeted out over 110,000 times.


塩Follow @RDECKZR the best hashtag twitter's ever had. "@._. TrillClinton: #lfTheyGunnedMeDown what picture would they use pic.twitter.com/uuqJhi6FxL" Reply t. Retweet ★ Favorite More RETWEETSFAVORITES 140 10:29 AM-11 Aug 2014 Flag media Not The Rapper @iTalk2Slick Follow #lfTheyGunnedMeDown I'm absolutely certain I know which pic they would use. Reply Retweet ★ Favorite More RETWEETSFAVORITES 13 41溘 10鮤髁 9:16 AM-11 Aug 2014 Flag media Brie Nurse Follow @BriannaChevonne #IfTheyGunnedMeDown what young black girl would they see pic.twitter.com/NWx9MYfHOs Reply Retweet ★ Favorite More RETWEETS FAVORITES 314 12:23 AM-11 Aug 2014 Flag media

Riots & Protests

On August 10th, the demonstration took on a violent turn when some of the crowd members participating in a day of vigils reportedly began looting businesses and vandalizing vehicles. At least 150 riot officers were dispatched to the scene, using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. On August 12th, protesters congregated in Clayton, Missouri demanding the criminal prosecution of the officer who shot Brown. The protests in Ferguson continued for months during the hearing.


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Police used tear gas on the crowd, claiming bottles had been thrown at officers. On August 13th, journalists Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of Washington Post were arrested while charging their phones at a McDonald's restaurant. Later, Reilly claimed officers slammed his head into the glass and Lowery tweeted that he had been pushed into a soda machine.[18]


Wesley Lowery @WesleyLowery Follow Officers slammed me into a fountain soda machine because I was confused about which door they were asking me to walk out of わReply Retweet * Favorite RETWEETS FAVORITES 7,674 1,711 8:44 PM-13 Aug 2014 More

That evening, the @OccupyOakland Twitter feed posted a screenshot of tweets sent from Palestinian citizens provided tips on handling tear gas.


Occupy Oakland OccupyOakland Follow Palestinian citizens are tweeting to the resistors in #Ferguson with support & tips on dealing with tear gas! #gaza Reply t3 Retweet * Favorite More JueJarw @Mariam Barghouti , 2m I remember when I used to get teargassed, I used to just remind myself this pain will pass as to not collapse-It helps! #Palestine #Ferguson 四Retweeted by vrjio. Rajai abuKhali @Rajaiabukhali 5m @MariamBarghouti And of course DON'T wash your eyes with water わ £74 ★ ..。 View conversation d @MariamBarghouti 7m Always make sure to run against the wind /to keep calm when you're teargassed, the pain will pass, don't rub your eyes! #Ferguson Solidarity £725 *7 Jue.Hhfw @Mariam Barghouti , 8m -Solidarity with #Ferguson. Remember to not touch your face when teargassed or put water on it. Instead use milk or coke! RETWEETS FAVORITES 11:25 PM 13 Aug 2014 Flag media

On August 14th, Redditor kevan submitted a photograph of police officers in Ferguson purportedly tear gassing press and dismantling their equipment to the /r/pics[17] subreddit (shown below). In the first six hours, the post garnered upwards of 5,500 votes (95% upvoted).



#OpFerguson

On August 10th, 2014, Anonymous [9] issued a press release via PasteBin[10] in a post titled "Anonymous Operation Ferguson – Press Release." The release explains Anonymous was "outraged" by Brown's death, and explained they would be taking action, explaining:''



"Anonymous demands that the Congressional Representatives and Senators from Missouri introduce legislation entitled "Mike Brown's Law" that will set strict national standards for police conduct in the USA. We further demand that this new law include specific language to grant the victims of police violence the same rights and prerogatives that are already enjoyed nationwide by the victims of other violent criminals. The Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution demands nothing less."


They went on to say that should any of those protesting Brown's death be harmed by police, Anonymous would attack their computer systems and release the personal information of their officers. The same day the Twitter account OpFerguson[11] was created, within 24 hours it gained over 1,000 followers. Also that day the hashtag #OpFerguson was introduced, within 24 hours it has been tweeted out over 6,000 times. That night Ferguson's town website was hacked[13] leading their mayor to have city employees' personal information removed from several websites.

Officer's Identity

On August 12th, @OpFergusion[14] tweeted that they were in the process of verifying the alleged identity of Brown's murderer.


Operation Ferguson @OpFerguson Follow We are in the process now of making a final confirmation on the name of Mike Brown's murderer. It will be released the moment we receive it. 4 Reply Retweet * Favorite More RETWEETSFAVORITES 3.39 PM-12 Aug 2014

On August 13th, Mother Jones[15] published an email exchange with a member of Anonymous, who claimed the group was close to revealing the officer's name and had a source "very close personally to the officer." The same day, TheAnonMessage YouTube channel uploaded a purported recording of the St. Louis Police Department dispatch during Michael Brown's shooting.



On August 14th, the @TheAnonMessage Twitter feed posted the name and Facebook profile of a man whom they claimed was the officer responsible for shooting Brown. That day, the St. Louis County PD Twitter feed replied to @TheAnonMessage, claiming the officer was not affiliated with St. Louis County or Ferguson. The tweet was subsequently deleted and the @TheAnonMessage feed was banned.


St. Louis County PD @stlcountypd Following @TheAnonMessage We already have. You may have missed the message. is not even an officer with St. Louis County or Ferguson. Reply t. Retweet ★ Favorite RETWEETSFAVORITES 255 More 0:48 AM-14 Aug 2014

On the same day, the @OpFerguson[16] feed announced the name released did not match the one obtained from their own independent source.


Operation Ferguson @opFerguson 塩Follow But we confirm what CNN & the police have stated, the name released does not match the name that was leaked to us by a source. I #OpFerguson わReply 다 Retweet ★ Favorite RETWEETSFAVORITES 248 59 More 11:54 AM-14 Aug 2014

On the morning of August 15th, Thomas Jackson, the chief of Ferguson Police Department, identified the officer who fatally shot Brown as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran cop without any history of disciplinary actions or complaints, in a press conference (shown below, left). Along with this revelation, the department also released security camera footage and photographs to show that Brown had been suspected of taking part in a convenience store robbery shortly before the shooting (shown below, right).



FCKH8: Racism Is Not Over

On September 9th, 2014, online activist fashion retailer FCKH8 launched a new line of t-shirts, wristbands and bumper stickers bearing the slogan "Racism isn't over. But I'm over racism," along with a public service announcement video addressing the reality of racial profiling as told by six black youths from the town of Ferguson.



Impact

Special Investigations

Between August 10th and 13th, three official investigations into the case of Michael Brown's death commenced on both state and federal levels: the St. Louis County Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

Autopsies

In the following months, three autopsies were performed on Brown's body by the county officials, an independent medical examiner and the Department of Justice, all of which noted that he had been shot at least six times, including twice in the head, with no shots in the back.

Grand Jury Hearing

On August 20th, a grand jury in St. Louis County began hearing evidence in the case of Brown's death to determine "whether a crime was committed and whether there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed it," or more simply put, whether to indict the officer who shot Michael Brown. On October 17th, the FBI forensics test results revealed that Wilson's gun was fired twice in his vehicle, one of which struck Brown's arm; his blood was found on the gun, as well as on Wilson's uniform. After three months of the hearing, on November 24th, the grand jury reached a decision in the case and elected not to indict Wilson.

Robert McCulloch

During the hearing, Robert McCulloch, St. Louis County's elected prosecuting attorney who opted to delegate the decision of whether to file charges against the officer to a grand jury, came under scrutiny as some officials began calling for a special prosecutor in place of McCulloch, including St. Louis County Executive Charley Dooley and State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, allegedly due to his history of close relationship with the police department and questionable decisions not to file charges in similar cases involving police officers, including the fatal police shooting of two unarmed black men in 2000. Despite a state-wide petition and calls from Democratic politicians to delegate the case to a higher level authority, McCulloch remained in charge of the case.

#OpKKK

On November 13th, 2014, CBS St. Louis reported that a chapter of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan based in Park Hills, Missouri has been distributing “threatening” fliers across the town of Ferguson, publicly condemning the protesters as “terrorists” and that “lethal force” would be used against “violent protesters”.[24] The sightings of the KKK fliers were reported as the grand jury is expected to deliver its decision on whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson before the end of November.


Attention: To the terrorists masquerading as "peaceful protestors"l You have awakened a sleeping giant. The good people of St. Louis County of all races, colors, and creeds will not tolerate your threats of violence against our police officers, their families, and our communities. We will not sit by and allow you to harm our familles, communitiles, property nor disrupt our daily lives. Your right to freedom of speech does not give you the right to terrortze cittzens. We will use lethal force as provided under Missouri Law to defend ourselves. Defense of Justification Section 563.031 A person may subject to the provislons of subsection 2 of this section, use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defond himself or hersolf or a third person from what he or she reasonably belleves to be the use or Imminent use of unlawul force by such other person. You have been warned by the Ku Klux Klan! There will be consequences for your acts of violence against the peaceful, law abiding ctizens of Missourl. Contact us at 1-888-276-6760 or www.takkkkoom for more information or help in setting us a neighborhood watch in your community ranonal ist American Knights of the Ra Klus kien Neighberhood Watch A MESSAGE FROM ANONYMOUS NOpKKK-17 NOV 2014 03:00:00 As many of you already know, this past week Anonymous has launched an attack on America's homegrown terrorist group known as the Ku Klux Kan. Anonymous took action after Kan members promised to use lethal force" against peaceful protestors in Ferguson, Missouri. #OpKKK (#Hoods was then launched. Members of our group revealed identities of Kan members and Klan websites have been DD0Sed. Anonymous then took to Twitter. With warning, Anonymous took control of what was believed as the official Ku Klux Kan Twitter account (@KuKluxKlanUSA). Before going any further, we'd like to address our idea of freedom. Ater exposing Klan members and seizing the Klan's websites and Twitter accounts, Anonymous members faced much criticism regarding freedom. Anonymous stands for freedom, so why would we strip someone of his or her freedom of speech? The Ku Klux Kan is a terrorist group. The blood of thousands of human beings are on the hands of Klansmen. In most of Anonymous' member's eyes, the KKK no longer has the right to express their racist, bigoted opinions. Moving on to the main topic, the Klan's Twitter account. Based on the Direct Messages sent and received to @KuKluxKlanUSA, we can confirm an official member of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK operated the account. Through the Klan's Twitter account, we have obtained large amounts of information of multiple white supremadsts, along with the operator of the account. The members of Anonymous who seized the account are continuing to debate if the identties of the people associated with the Klan's Twitter should be released to the public. This debate has risen as we are not completely sure how much of a connection many of the people actually have to the KKK. We want to ensure we are ousting the right people.It would be against everything Anonymous does if we publidy released information of the innocent. As for the account itsef, we will leave it untouched as it could lead to more information that could contribute to #OpKKK Once the operation is considered a complete success, we will remove the account from Twitter. What was accomplished on 16 NOV 2014 is just the beginning of #OpSS. Anonymous has plenty more work to do. To the men and women representing Anonymous in Ferguson, make us proud. Show the world why Anonymous is the most united legion on this planet. 0 You should ve expected us ANONYMOUS

In the midst of the ensuing controversy, the KKK and Anonymous reportedly exchanged several rounds of threats.[25] On November 14th, 2014, the YouTube channel of Anonymous Australia published a video titled "“ANONYMOUS #OpKKK”:https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/opkkk, in which it declared the launch of a cyberattack campaign against the KKK. The video communique was briefly taken down from the site before it was reactivated on November 18th.



Online Reactions

In the hours leading up to and after the announcement of the grand jury's decision, several hashtags and keywords, including #FergusonDecision[20], Officer Wilson[21] and McCullough[22] rose to trending topics on Twitter in the United States and the top trending tags on Tumblr.[23] On Reddit, user roasterbagel started a Fergusion Decision Megathread on /r/AskReddit.[26] For the latest developments in Ferguson, Missouri, check out KYMdb – 2014 Ferguson Riots.


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