"Hands Up, Don't Shoot". This phrase alone has become synonymous with the issue of Gun Violence in our country. We've heard about this being chanted in streets, being demonstrated at national sporting events, and it is constantly being talked about in our country. But what does this statement even mean? What does it stand for?
The origin of the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" movement began shortly after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The slogan was developed to protest against police violence, and it eventually spread nationwide. Officer Darren Wilson said that he shot Michael Brown when he became fearful of his safety while the two of them were walking on the sidewalk. Eyewitnesses have said that before he was shot, Brown raised both of his hands. Many protestors have shown support for Michael Brown by doing just what he allegedly did, raising their hands, hence the term "Hands Up, Don't Shoot".
"Hands Up, Don't Shoot" and other similar slogans, such as "I Can't Breathe", have been used often on the national scene. On November 30, 2014, five members of the NFL's St. Louis Rams walked onto the field in the Edward Jones Dome with their hands up, in protest of the death of Michael Brown. The players (Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, and Chris Givens) did this without the knowledge of their coach, who later stated that his players "were exercising their right to free speech". These five players were later criticized by members of the St. Louis Police Department, and some of the players even received death threats online. Another similar protest also included professional athletes in professional sports. During the 2014-2015 season, prominent athletes in the NBA wore shirts that read "I Can't Breathe", in reference to. Players such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant wore the shirts. The players were never fined, though many felt that the players should have faced punishment.
I think that the issue that is being protested is very important in our society. However, I sometimes feel that protests done by members of Black Lives Matter or other groups fighting for important issues in our society go too far. For example, in December of 2015, the Mall of America was shut down for an entire day due to a Black Lives Matter protest, causing many people to lose a day of shopping right before Christmas. The group has also caused highways to shut down by blocking off entire roads. I feel like these incidents are pointless, and that they don't help out the issue that they are fighting at all. I think that when events like these happen, it causes people to only see negative aspects of the activist movement. If they could find ways to protest without disrupting innocent lives, I think that they would be viewed better by the general public.