“Hands up, don’t shoot”
“Hands up, don’t shoot”
“Hands up, don’t shoot”
We are all familiar with this chant. It was a chant birthed in Ferguson, MO on August 9, 2014 when Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson. The initial breaking stories reported that Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown as he fled and continued to shoot even though Michael Brown stopped, raised his hands and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!” Twelve shots later, Michael Brown laid face down, dead.
News of this incident soon trended across social media. It ran across every mainstream news outlet and spawned a multitude of debates online. And of course, it led to the multiple protests and riots that burned cities across America. It was everywhere. Since that fateful day, “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” has become a banner and gesture used by protestors, professional athletes, celebrities and politicians alike.
I believed this story to be true.
It wasn’t until 2017 or so when I heard the “Hands up, Don’t shoot” story was based on a lie— a false story. I was pointed to a report compiled by the Department of Justice (DOJ), led by Attorney General Eric Holder — who was appointed by President Obama. I’m not sure why I never heard of the report. I don’t recall seeing it in the news so I Googled it and found the official Department of Justice Report Regarding the Criminal Investigation into the Shooting Death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson.
The DOJ report was released March 4, 2015 — 207 days after Michael Brown’s murder. The discoveries I found in the 82-page report, hit me hard. It was one of those, “No Way” feelings. It became apparent, very quickly, that what I believed was factually incorrect.
- Michael Brown never attempted to take Officer Wilson’s service weapon:
- Michael Brown was shot in the back as he fled:
- Michael Brown, with hands raised, surrendered and was still shot:
- The police intentionally left Michael Brown’s lifeless body, uncovered, in the street for an extended time to send a message to the Black community:
All the evidence — over 100 eye witness accounts, DNA analysis, three autopsy findings, ballistics, recordings — cut against what I believed. The narrative literally crumbled as I read the report — and the snippets I highlight are only a few paragraphs from the report.
It took two years for me to learn the truth. I can only assume that a majority of Americans who saw, read and heard the first reports of the Michael Brown story have never read this report. To this day the chant, “Hands up, Don’t shoot”, continues to be a support beam, undergirding the narrative that police are out and about to brutalize and kill Black men. Just last year, then Democratic presidential candidates — Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Joe Biden — continued to push the narrative Tweeting that Michael Brown was callously murdered by police despite it not being true.
Uncovering this report was one of the many turning points during my political journey. It shifted my thinking as I read the news. It forced me to be skeptical; particularly on news from legacy entities. It encouraged me seek alternative perspectives and sources for my news. It’s made me more critical of situations similar to Michael Brown’s case. And being critical is not to be void of empathy, as some have suggested… but acknowledging what happened, withholding judgment and seeking to find out what really happened — what was the context, waiting for the evidence and try to maintain a level of objectiveness, after all, we are all prone to bias.
Unfortunately, “waiting for the evidence” has fallen out of style. So far in fact that being objective, asking for evidence, and using logical reasoning has been deemed “white culture”. Thus any participation in coherent thinking or asking for evidence makes you a white supremacist (so check your privilege). Instead we’re encouraged to think with our feelings, hit a like and share button, just read headlines and quick memes instead of researching and reading whole articles… now we rush to virtue signal by being the first or the loudest to condemn the individual or “system” while pushing a particular narrative. Even as I write, there are situations unfolding where we don’t have all the information, yet the normal narratives are already being promulgated. And as I learned from this incident… no one seems to follow up or right the initial story, especially if it deviates from a narrative — case in point and a turning point that solidified my move right… The Covington Students from 2019.
As simple as it sounds… THE truth matters. What we should do is look for truth. And on my political journey, it’s become apparent the left is more concerned with narrative than truth.
“The mind, in discovering truths, acts in the same manner as it acts through the eye in discovering objects; when once any object has been seen, it is impossible to put the mind back in the same condition it was before it saw it.” — Thomas Paine