Students at the historically black college, Howard University, showed solidarity for police shooting victim Michael Brown in a poignant photo posted to Twitter.
Mother Jones reports that the photo shows students with their hands up, in the same manner that one might approach a police officer, who has a weapon trained on them, to show that they’re unarmed. It wasn’t a planned rally; it was of freshman students who were there for move-in day.
The shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, has drawn a lot of controversy over the last several days. Police have fired tear gas into crowds of protesters, and arrested some as well. It’s gotten so bad that reporters from the Washington Post and The Huffington Post got arrested inside a McDonald’s…for trespassing.
The Michael Brown shooting also prompted a very powerful hashtag campaign on Twitter, in which people—mostly black people—posted two pictures of themselves. One picture was of them at a party, or flipping off the camera, or dressed like the stereotypical “thug,” and another of them graduating from college, in a military uniform, working with children, or generally being a good citizen. The hashtag was #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, and asked which picture the press would use if a police officer gunned them down. The one where they appeared to be a good, productive citizen? Or the one where they looked like the stereotypical black criminal?
Another sad image captured in Mother Jones shows two young, black children holding signs that say, “Don’t shoot.” These two children live in Ferguson, and get to remember this from their childhood.
Ferguson is predominantly black, while the police department is almost entirely white. The community has changed, according to the Washington Post, and increasing distrust of the police department underscores growing racial tension there. The police department seems to have a growing distrust of the population they’re supposed to serve and protect.
The Ferguson police department has had problems when it comes to race for years. Indeed, the Washington Post piece says that Ferguson police are twice as likely to arrest black men at traffic stops than they are to arrest white men. The questions—and distrust—go back years, and bring into the spotlight a serious problem with racial discrimination, along with a severe lack of racial sensitivity, on the part of the officers.
The shows of solidarity with Michael Brown, and other black people who police shoot needlessly, only underscore how rampant racism still is here. We’re not a post-racial nation at all.