12 Aug 2014

Mike Brown protest spills into second night and onto web

Fifty people have been arrested in protests since Mike Brown was shot by police at the weekend, as the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag takes aim at media portrayal of black shootings.

A second night of violent clashes in Ferguson, Missouri, resulted in more arrests overnight, and another demonstration was planned on Tuesday outside the St Louis County prosecutor’s office.

Michael, or Mike, Brown, 18, was shot dead by police on Saturday, and officials have since said the shooting occurred after a struggle with a gun in a squad car. There has been widespread anger about the incident, which took place in the largely black St Louis suburb of Ferguson, and demonstrators have chanted “hands up, don’t shoot” at police during protests.

At least one shot was fired during the struggle, and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said. However they have not said why he was in the police car in the first place. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the case, along with a local investigation by St Louis County.

Photos from Mike Brown’s Twitter feed

The victim’s family has hired Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was shot dead in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.

The outrage on the streets has also spilled onto the internet, particularly with regard to the way the shooting was initially reported and the photos that were used. The initial photo was from his graduation day, while the second showed Brown in a Nike Air vest, making a sign with his hand (see above) – and many claimed this was the one more widely circulated online.

An article on The Root website claimed that it revealed how the media portrays black people in America as “violent thugs with gang and drug affiliations”.

Writer Yesha Callahan compared the reporting of Mike Brown’s killing with that of Trayvon Martin. “There were no photos of Trayvon smiling with his family members or being just your average happy teen, which his family members said he was,” she wrote.

“Similarly, the photos of Brown that have been picked up by the media included him throwing up a peace sign, which conservative media has translated into a ‘gang sign’.”