The “hands up, don’t shoot” meme that emerged in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting has been named one of the biggest lies of the year by the Washington Post fact-checker in his annual roundup.
On August 9, 2014, Ferguson cop Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, 18, which prompted a nationwide, racially charged controversy, leading to civil unrest in the St. Louis suburb and elsewhere around the country.
Brown was at the time a suspect in a robbery of a convenience store.
In November 2014, a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict Wilson on any criminal charges arising from the shooting, and Obama’s U.S. Department of Justice under then-AG Eric Holder concluded in a March 2015 report that there were no federal civil rights violations by the officer in the encounter. The DOJ separately found systemic abuses in the Ferguson police department with regard to matters of race, however.
Wilson has since resigned from the police department.
While the controversy raged, much of the rush-to-judgment media repeatedly claimed based on unconfirmed accounts that Michael Brown was shot, perhaps even in the back, while surrendering with his hands raised.
“The phrase took off more than a year ago, becoming a rallying cry for protesters and others trying to draw attention to the death of Brown and other African Americans at the hands of police officers,” Politico noted.
— POLITICO (@politico) December 14, 2015
In his year-end summary of the biggest whoppers, Glenn Kessler of the Post explained that “hands up, don’t shoot” was a false narrative.
“This phrase became a rallying cry for protests after the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. Witness accounts spread after the shooting that Michael Brown had his hands raised in surrender, mouthing the words ‘Don’t shoot’ as his last words before being shot execution-style. Democratic lawmakers raised their hands in solidarity on the House floor. But various investigations concluded this did not happen — and that Wilson acted out of self-defense and was justified in killing Brown.”
Added the Post at the time Holder’s investigation in the death of Michael Brown wrapped up, “The DOJ has concluded Wilson did not know whether Brown was armed, acted out of self-defense and was justified in killing Brown. The majority of witnesses told federal investigators that the initial claims that Brown’s hands were up were not accurate.”
“Lawmakers weren’t alone: The eyewitness version of Brown’s alleged execution-style death was repeated by the biggest newsrooms in the country, and television pundits…also made a show of solidarity by raising their hands in mock-surrender on-air,” the Washington Examiner noted.
— National Review (@NRO) December 15, 2015
Five St. Louis Rams players also raised their hands in support of the Ferguson Michael Brown protesters before their November 30, 2014, home game against the Oakland Raiders.
Among those separately receiving the fact-checker’s four Pinocchios for prevarication in 2015 included Donald Trump (multiple times), Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Kerry.
“Even the liberal-leaning Washington Post‘s own fact checker couldn’t deny ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ was one of the biggest lies of 2015,” BizPac Review asserted.
In March, Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart wrote — and reaffirmed in an accompanying video — that the federal government findings “have also forced me to deal with two uncomfortable truths: Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.”
Do you think that designating “hands up, don’t shoot” as one of the biggest lies of the year is justified?
[Photo by David Goldman/AP]