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The shots that sparked a movement

Photo Courtesy of Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Photo Courtesy of Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

“Hands up, don’t shoot” is  the cry heard nationwide after a Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury ruled not to indict officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown on Nov. 24.

Brown (18) was an unarmed, black teenager who, according to autopsy reports and statements by the Ferguson Police Department, was shot at least six times, twice in the head, by Wilson just after midnight on Aug. 9.

In August, after news of Brown’s death spread, St. Louis County Police reported that Brown was the prime suspect in a common robbery just before his death.

Forensic pathologist Michael Baden and assistant Shawn Parcells conducted an autopsy for Brown’s family independent of police. Their findings allude to the possibility that one of the gunshots was sustained while Brown was in a defensive position, with his “hands up”. BBC News stated that the gunshots also reveal that Brown must have been shot at least two feet away from Wilson.

These findings somewhat contradict Wilson’s maintained statements and county autopsy reports, that Brown’s injuries were the result of a struggle within feet of Wilson’s police cruiser. The county’s autopsy found powder consistent with firearm discharge on Brown’s hand, suggesting that Wilson’s account of a struggle may hold validity.

At least two witnesses, Dorian Johnson and Tiffany Mitchell, supported a narrative that is as follows: Wilson and Brown had a struggle while Wilson was seated in his car, at which point Wilson shot Brown through the window and Brown ran down the street. Wilson then shot Brown several more times.

The Washington Post printed that seven to eight other black witnesses, who refuse to publicly share their testimony, recount a narrative similar to Wilson’s.

Yet Wilson’s account given to the Grand Jury, whose sole purpose is to rule whether or not a case will go to trial, was that Brown assaulted him in his car and reached for his gun, at which point Wilson shot Brown once. Brown then ran down the street, taunting Wilson, and then charged at Wilson, who shot the teen at least five more times. This narrative has been corroborated by a witness “Josie” and was maintained in an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos one day after the Grand Jury’s decision.

Wilson expressed sadness for the loss of life, but was confident in saying that he would repeat the same scenario if the events presented themselves again.

Over the past week, #Indict rallies have spanned the nation and garnered attention from world media outlets.

Due to the racially-charged motives some project onto Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department, #BlackLivesMatter has been another chant that expresses the rage people have for a “misconduct of justice”. 50 of Ferguson’s 53 officers are white while 65% of the jurisdiction’s population is black.

In Ferguson alone, at least 78 people were arrested in the riots, protests, and looting after the Grand Jury’s decision was announced last Monday evening.

In response, President Barack Obama currently moves for a $75 million mission to purchase 50,000 body cameras for local police.

From college campuses to major metropolises (New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston), Americans and foreigners alike have ensured that Brown’s story will not go untold.


About Marianna McMurdock

Self-described as an "ardent archivist", Marianna is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Sun. When she is not despairing over her beloved television characters (Underwood and Holmes represent) she enjoys listening to movie scores, Andrew Bird, and Beyonce. She also serves the Sun as Photo Editor, and has been a self-taught photographer for four years. Her personal work is available at www.flickr.com/photos/maridock

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