Ferguson Report Puts ‘Hands Up’ to Reality Test

Jack Healy et al., New York Times, March 5, 2015

They were four words that became the national rallying cry of a new civil rights movement: “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Protesters chanted it, arms raised, in cities across the country in solidarity for Michael Brown, the black teenager who some witnesses said was surrendering when he was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

The slogan was embraced by members of Congress, recording artists and football players with the St. Louis Rams.

"Hands up, don't shoot" at the Capitol.

“Hands up, don’t shoot” at the Capitol.

It inspired posters and songs, T-shirts and new advocacy groups, a powerful distillation of simmering anger over police violence and racial injustice in Ferguson and beyond.

But in its final report this week clearing the police officer, Darren Wilson, of civil rights violations in Mr. Brown’s death, the Justice Department said it may not have happened that way. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. cast doubt on the “hands up” account even as he described Ferguson as having a racially biased police department and justice system.

“It remains not only valid–but essential–to question how such a strong alternative version of events was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily,” Mr. Holder said Wednesday.


But protest leaders who marched through streets around the country with their arms raised and founded groups such as Hands Up United or the Don’t Shoot Coalition said the report did not undercut their efforts to push for police reforms and advocate for victims of law enforcement violence.


“While there is an issue as to whether his hands were up, the bigger question is whether we as a nation are going to step up to try to bridge this gap of distrust between police and those who they are sworn to protect and serve,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat of Maryland, who appeared on the steps of the Capitol with other black members of Congress, all posing with their hands up.

Others rejected the Justice Department’s conclusions entirely, and said they still believed Mr. Brown was trying to surrender when he was killed.


“To me, he had his hands up,” said Michael T. McPhearson, co-chairman of the Don’t Shoot Coalition in St. Louis. “It doesn’t change it for me.”

Protest organizers said that no matter what Mr. Brown had been doing with his hands when he was shot–balling them, holding them out or pulling up his pants, according to various witness accounts outlined by the Justice Department–he had still been shot at least six times, and his body had been allowed to lie in the street for hours.

They said that “hands up, don’t shoot” had taken on a power of its own that arced beyond Ferguson, becoming a broader evocation of anger and injustice that now stood with earlier protest calls like “si, se puede,” “we shall overcome” or “I can’t breathe,” one of the last things said by Eric Garner, a black man who was killed in a chokehold by a white New York police officer on Staten Island.



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  • “Put it to the reality test”

    Which it failed miserably.

    Is this the NYT’s 28,576th article on Ferguson since August 9? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch isn’t even that interested in Ferguson.

    I’d like to say here that this is all a matter of blacks will believe any convenient self-serving lie and continue believing it after it has been proven to be a lie. However, white people around here aren’t immune. “Anti-Semitic Whisper Campaign” is 2015’s answer to “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” of 2014. And the main impresario of the former isn’t some dumb negro, it’s John Danforth.

  • MekongDelta69

    “‘It remains not only valid–but essential–to question how such a strong alternative version of events was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily,’ Mr. Holder said Wednesday.”

    Oh, let’s see now…




    Uhh… Maybe because YOU, NoBama, Sharp-Tonnage, Hi-Jackson, and all the rest of the black race hustlers MADE it that way.

    Hey – just a thought…

    • Oil Can Harry

      Blacks hate facts and love myths and conspiracy theories.

      • Nancy

        Hence the reason that Negroes are the most backward, superstitious race on the planet: no other race of people are so constitutionally ignorant that they’d believe that acquiring albino body parts are “good luck”, consuming monkey and bat meat is “good eatin'”, and killing WHO workers with life-saving vaccines is “good policy”.

        • 1G25

          Evolution (or the lack thereof) matters.

    • Realist

      Stupid whites brought blacks here, as ‘free’ labor, almost 400 years ago. It has cost whites trillions of dollars since.

      • UncleSham

        It seemed like a good idea at the time.

  • A Freespeechzone

    Realty, facts and the truth can never rise to the top—otherwise the myths of these violent thugs would be dispelled.

    The reality is that many negroes want to do anything they damned well want–up to and including unprovoked attacks on others and law enforcement without impunity or being held accountable. Many of these have ‘attitude’ and challenge law enforcement–daring them to stop them from their illegal and violent actions.

    Frankly, Obama, Holder and the new AG–along with the media and self-loathing liberals want those who are the targets of violent negroes to literally ‘lie down and die’ without a whimper.

    We are, for now, still the majority—when will we rise up and demand this stop??

  • Nancy

    “To me, he had his hands up,” said Michael T. McPhearson, co-chairman of the Don’t Shoot Coalition in St. Louis. “It doesn’t change it for me.”

    Hence the reason why we don’t see more black brain surgeons, rocket scientists, quantum physicists, aerospace engineers, or logic professors: even basic, objective facts like “The violent thug did NOT have his hands up!” simply can’t penetrate their unusually hard heads.

    • disqus_Xz3UA6obwj

      If your preferred flavor of dogma is black victimization dogma you will see it lurking around every corner, if your preferred flavor of dogma is religious dogma you will see god everywhere. Very few humans are intellectually honest people all the time.

      • Nancy

        There’s a difference between Christianity, which does stand up to critical inspection and has much historical evidence to support it, and flat-out denial of objective evidence because one has a desire to continue one’s bad behavior (and support others who do the same). There’s no moral equivalence between the two.

        However, I can appreciate how people would LIKE them to be the same. If folks like that McPhearson fellow accepted the truth about the Ferguson incident, they would have to change their worldview and take responsibility for poor behavior. Life for them would become more difficult.

        But I know this is a touchy subject, and we’ll simply have to agree to disagree. The more important issue is that whites put aside questions of religion and other divisive issues, and unify for our own protection and the preservation of our race.

        • disqus_Xz3UA6obwj

          No historical evidence of Christ from the time he was supposedly alive. The first mention of him comes many decades after his supposed death. There is no evidence of any god of any religion and certainly there is no evidence of life after death and to the contrary, a corpse is as conclusive proof as there could ever possibly be that life after death is an absurd notion. Human memory and awareness is not a ghost, it requires working senses and a living brain to process the information and we know this for a fact.

  • JohnEngelman

    “Hands up, don’t shoot,” is what I wanted to say when two black teenagers robbed me at gunpoint.

    • Who Me?

      John, did they also shoot you, or just beat you and kick your teeth down your throat like the savages they were? (Did you ever get to meet them in court, or was it the usual “unidentified assailants”?)

      • JohnEngelman

        I was working the night shift at a motel. They emptied the cash register and left. They left now clues. They were never caught.

        • Who Me?

          It’s too bad they were never caught, but good thing they didn’t also shoot you or otherwise kill you, though they apparently gave it good try.

          • JohnEngelman

            Until then I was a conventional liberal. I still am liberal on lots of issues, but I am also a race realist. It is unfortunate that whites usually need to be victims of black crime before they realize that there are problems with blacks.

          • I guess that makes sense. They already had the money from their robbery, so they beat you only because you are white.

        • One robbed the store while I was a morning manager at a Subway restaurant in August 2004. I had remarked on my co-worker’s truck having a loose muffler that morning.

          Before the morning crowd arrived, a black guy came in, and asked if we were hiring. I explained “You bet. Lots of folks are going back to high school or away to college, so we will need people for day shift.”

          Then he pulled out his derringer pistol and robbed the store.

          • Fathercoughlin

            Maybe it was an act of love,feeding his fambly,per Jeb Bush?

        • pwnful truth

          I, too, have been robbed at gunpoint by black “youths,” just like almost everyone who has had the misfortune to live in a “diverse” community for any length of time. In my case they had muderous intent but their animal stupidity allowed me to escape

  • Jessica Lee

    I live next door to the police station in my city. Every year, events are held at the station for the community that include food, gifts, and live music. There is trick or treating at Halloween, toy giveaways at Christmas, etc. The participants in these events are 99.9% black. Black people say that they do not trust the police, yet they bring their young children in the midst of the people that they teach their children are out to get them, and to kill them for no reason other than the color of their skin. This had never made any sense to me.

    • LexiconD1

      Their want of free stuff out weighs the lies they tell each other, and their kids.

    • HE2

      Freebies trump any animus felt for the donors.
      A Ben and Jerry’s truck was giving out free ice cream cones in our Safeway Car Park some time ago. This Safeway is largely White patronized.
      Word of mouth about this event spread quickly to adjacent black hoods.
      They flocked in by the car loads, joined the queue, jostled and shoved others for what they felt was their rightful place.
      Some took their cone, rejoined the queue, eating their cone as they once again advanced and waited for another.
      Whites left, appalled at the feral greed driven behavior and fearing a shootout.
      Such things are difficult to watch, even though we know this is predictable black behavior.

    • Fathercoughlin

      Like to see the Klan have a “giveaway” for the chilluns.Cognitive dissonance.

  • disqus_Xz3UA6obwj

    One thing is obvious , the ones who immediately found Wilson guilty and started protesting long before any investigation had been done are the ones who have exposed both their ignorance and racial prejudice and we all know what color those people were and it includes all those prejudiced fools in the photo on the steps of the Capitol.

  • dd121

    Dear writer for the NYT: it was all a damn liberal lie.

    • Reporters like Jack Healy have nobody to blame but themselves. They spread deliberate disinformation as “news”, such as running the photo of Trayvon Martin taken when he was approximately ten years old.

  • John Smith

    Facts don’t change it for these “people.” Probably has something to do with a double-digit average IQ.

  • Marilyn

    Boy if I were a lib feminazi taking part in these hands up don’t shoot rallies I’d feel pretty stupid right about now!

    • Jason Lewis

      Not at all. Didnt you hear they found a email from a Ferguson Police dispatcher that had a racial joke in it. Hence the department is racist. All the riots were justified. (sarc)

  • Light from the East

    What about “Pants Up, Don’t Loot” reality test? I guess it is not even real because how can you expect they change their deeply rooted behaviors.

  • ““I can’t breathe,” one of the last things said by Eric Garner, a black man who was killed in a chokehold by a white New York police officer on Staten Island.”

    Oh look guys, a blatant lie, I wonder when they’ll be printing the reaction?