“Hands up, don’t shoot!” became one of the biggest slogans of 2015, pushed by Black Lives Matter, the political juggernaut of 2015.
It permeated media coverage about race relations and police brutality, dominated the headlines and even forced Democratic Party presidential candidates to back down in the face of protests.
But it just wasn’t true.
It was a lie.
Black Lives Matter initially appeared after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, allegedly while he was trying to beat the daylights out of a volunteer neighborhood watchman.
But the group really built momentum after police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, 2014. The media vividly reported the accounts of “eyewitnesses” who claimed Brown had put his hands in the air in an attempt to surrender.
“Don’t shoot,” Brown supposedly begged.
That phrase became one of the most widely reported refrains of the Black Lives Matter protest movement, with activists throwing up their hands wherever they appeared.
However, in March 2015, the Department of Justice released a comprehensive report on the death of Michael Brown.
It concluded the “evidence does not support an indictment of Darren Wilson.”
And it dismantled the “hands up don’t shoot” myth.
“[T]here are no witnesses who could credibly testify that Wilson shot Brown while Brown was clearly attempting to surrender,” he said.
It even contained an implicit critique of the mainstream media’s treatment of the incident. The report said: “The media has widely reported that there is witness testimony that Brown said ‘don’t shoot’ as he held his hands above his head. In fact, our investigation did not reveal any witnesses who stated that Brown said ‘don’t shoot.'”
The facts, however, did not make an impact on the use of the slogan in demonstrations and other actions by Black Lives Matter.
Some people living in Ferguson even felt it was important to protect the narrative surrounding Brown’s supposed innocence, with one witness mentioned in the report refusing to go on record because of “community sentiment to support a ‘hands up’ surrender narrative.”
In fact, the witness said he would rather go to jail than publicly testify about what he saw.
The gesture and slogan is still used in Black Lives Matter demonstrations and is still repeated as if it is something Brown said. The social networking giant Twitter featured a picture of Black Lives Matter protesters using the gesture more than a week after the report was issued.
The slogan was even used as part of a program presented by a high school in Virginia. And some activists claim the chant resonates because it “keyed into something that everybody’s been feeling for a long time,” even if it is not literally true.
The confirmation of its falsehood didn’t affect Black Lives Matter’s use, for example.
According to Twitter, #BlackLivesMatter was the eighth most used hashtag accompanying all news stories. CNN already has credited the group with having “changed the way people talk about police brutality and inequality.”
However, not all black leaders are celebrating the rise of Black Lives Matter, or the use of the slogan.
Jesse Lee Peterson, a civil-rights leader and author of “The Antidote,” has slammed Black Lives Matter as a “hate group.” And he argues the entire country is still living with the consequences of the “hands up, don’t shoot” lie.
“This is not going to end until the cops are allowed to take back control of the country and arrest the agitators, arrest the thugs,” Peterson told WND. “Black Lives Matter is not about black lives; it’s about the redistribution of wealth.”
Peterson argues the movement should have been discredited after it continued to use the “hands up, don’t shoot slogan” months after the Department of Justice’s report.
“It was a lie!” he exclaimed. “The Department of Justice investigated. They found no evidence that Michael Brown ever had his hands up saying, ‘Don’t shoot.’ It was a total lie, but they’re still promoting that lie. And you keep seeing it in their demonstrations.”
Peterson claimed the lie was created by “that thug who was with Michael Brown at the time he robbed the store” before Brown was shot. Peterson is referring to Dorian Johnson, who told the media after the incident Brown’s last words had been “hands up, don’t shoot.”
Johnson was arrested in May 2015 for drug possession and resisting arrest.
Black Lives Matter recently created headlines for attempting a demonstration at the Mall of America during one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Protesters also attempted to shut down the Minneapolis and San Francisco airports during the height of holiday travel.
“These thugs, these agitators, should not be allowed to do this,” said Peterson.
He charged the mainstream media and the government have been far too tolerant of the Black Lives Matter movement’s lies and lawbreaking. And as the year comes to an end, Peterson argues it is time for a hard line.
“Michael Brown was a thug,” he said bluntly. “Officer Darren Wilson did the right thing; it’s been proven. And now it’s time for our government to do the right thing.”
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