Hands Up, Don't Shoot

Hands Up, Don't Shoot

Part of a series on Michael Brown's Death. [View Related Entries]

Updated Jan 13, 2020 at 06:41AM EST by Y F.

Added Dec 02, 2014 at 07:15PM EST by Brad.

PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.

This submission is currently being researched & evaluated!

You can help confirm this entry by contributing facts, media, and other evidence of notability and mutation.


"Hands Up, Don't Shoot!" is a slogan closely associated with the ongoing anti-police protests in the aftermath of Michael Brown's Death in Ferguson, Missouri.[1] The phrase is meant to illustrate the circumstances of Brown's death as initially reported in the news media and later in the grand jury testimony, during which Brown declared that he was unarmed and told Darren Wilson, the police officer involved in the shooting, to "stop shooting" with his hands raised.


The phrase stems from the account as provided by Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown who was with him that day, initially to the news media outlets in August 2014 and later before the grand jury in September. According to Johnson's account:

Wilson approached them by the sidewalk in his police SUV and told them to stop, to which Brown and Johnson replied that they were close to home and would shortly be out of the street. Wilson then blocked their pathway and attempted to detain Brown through the window of his vehicle, leading to a physical struggle between the two, during which Wilson drew his weapon and said "I'll shoot you" or "I'm going to shoot" before firing his weapon at Brown. As Brown and Johnson began to flee from the police car, Wilson fired several more rounds at Brown, who then turned around with his hands raised and said, "I don't have a gun. Stop shooting!" Wilson then shot Brown several more times, killing him.

The slogan "hands up, don't shoot!" was coined by St. Louis protesters, including Hands Up United, a police watchdog activist group based in Ferguson, Missouri formed in the wake of Michael Brown's death, and spread across the country in the following days of the week.[2]


Throughout August, the phrase was featured in many headlines of news articles covering the protests across the country, as well as reported in the news[3] as a powerful protest symbol against anti-police brutality. On August 15th, 2014, Fast Company published an article[5] titled "'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' and Growing Power of Protest Memes," which highlighted the instrumental role of visual media in activism and compared the "hands up" gesture to a number of other protest memes, including "We are All Trayvon Martin" and the hoodie images in the wake of Trayvon Martin's death in February 2012. On August 19th, USA Today ran an article[4] titled "Ferguson protests give new meaning to 'hands up' sign," showcasing photographs of protesters with hands in the air.

St. Louis Rams' "Hands-Up" Entrance

On November 30th, several members of the St. Louis Rams,[6] Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Jared Cook and Chris Givens, entered the field with their arms raised in solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson Missouri, before their match against the Oakland Raiders.

The NFL athletes' stunt instantly became the talking point of the game, and by the next morning, it blew up into the social media controversy of the day after the St. Louis Police Officers Associations denounced the display by calling it "tasteless, offensive and inflammatory."[8] The NFL replied they would not adhere to a request from the St. Louis Police Officers Associations to discipline the players.[9] In reply to the Rams' vice president Kevin Demoff stating that he he "regretted any offense their officers may have taken," St. Louis County chief Jon Belmar said he "believed it to be an apology,"[10] but this claim was later denied by the St. Louis Rams.[11]

Walk Out Protests

On December 1st, the phrase became widely used as the official slogan among the participants of walkout protests in towns across Missouri, as well as several major U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Chicago, among others. In Washington D.C., several Democratic members of the Congress, New York’s Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, as well as Texas’ Al Green, performed the gesture on the House floor in support of the protests.[7]

Search Interest

External References

Recent Videos 5 total

Recent Images 13 total

+ Add a Comment

Comments (59)

Display Comments

Add a Comment

O HAI! You must login or signup first!