On this dayAug 09, 2014

Michael Brown Shot and Killed by Police in Ferguson, Missouri

Image | Elcardo Anthony

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, was shot to death by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. According to reports, Officer Wilson stopped Michael on the street in the afternoon to ask him about a robbery at a nearby convenience store. Although the precise details of what happened next remain unclear, many eyewitness accounts suggest that Michael ran from the officer with his hands raised in the air. Officer Wilson then shot Michael six times and claimed that he had feared for his life. Michael’s body was found approximately 150 feet from the officer’s police vehicle. He had graduated from high school just eight days before and was scheduled to begin a vocational training program two days later.

There is a presumption of guilt and dangerousness that has unfairly made people of color, particularly young black men, targets of police aggression and violence. The shooting and its aftermath sparked weeks of protests in Ferguson and beyond. Demonstrators chanting “hands up, don’t shoot” as a rallying cry against police brutality gathered in the streets, facing officers armed with military-grade equipment. Law enforcement’s heavy-handed response to the protests prompted national discussions about the militarization of inner-city police forces, and the ways in which police officers used violence to repress dissent and maintain racially biased social conditions.

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Despite nationwide pleas for accountability, no one was punished for Michael Brown’s death. A grand jury ultimately declined to bring criminal charges against Officer Wilson, and the Department of Justice also refused to file federal civil rights charges.

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