Week 12: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Photographs from #Ferguson

Scott Olson, Gabrielle Walker, 5, protests the killing of Michael Brown, August 17, 2014

Scott Olson, Gabrielle Walker, 5, protests the killing of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014

Last week, we studied Robert Frank’s photographs for his groundbreaking publication, The Americans and next week, we will examine several iconic photographs related to the Vietnam War. These two lessons highlight the important issues of race and protest in American history, concerns that are on the mind of many today and on the forefront of current national news. Scott Olson, a photographer for Getty Images, captured some of the most poignant photographs of the protests that erupted after the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, MO. The phrase “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and the gesture of raising one’s arms in protest have emerged as rallying cries that imitate Michael Brown’s gesture before he was shot by the police officer Darren Wilson, who was not indicted for his actions by a grand jury. This controversial ruling, and this week’s ruling on the death of Eric Garner have inspired a new wave of protests across the nation, including last weekend’s football game on national TV. Hashtags for #Ferguson, #HandsUpDontShoot, #ICantBreath have proliferated across social media. For this Discussion Topic, I would like you to read Scott Olson’s reflections about the photographs he took during the early days of the Ferguson protests, and consider them against the history of Frank’s photographs and the infamous image taken at Kent State by John Filo.

Read about Scott Ferguson’s photographs from Ferguson here.

Please submit your posts by Monday, December 15th.

One thought on “Week 12: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Photographs from #Ferguson

  1. After reading both articles and seeing the difference in time frames, I believe this is a clear example on how history keeps repeating itself. Of course it’s extremely awful that these things happened to innocent people. However, it does make me wonder why these things keep happening. We as people are so wrapped up in things that are unimportant, we are so oblivious to things that are happening in our local communities. We walk pass homeless, needy, and injured people every single day. I get that we can’t help everyone, but how can someone take us seriously when we want to protest something thats happening hours and hundreds of miles away when we don’t even help the people that are begging us in our faces. Its morally wrong that a police officer is actually aiming to shoot an unarmed civilian. However, this is the government that we elected someone is training these officers and if this can happen in multiple cities years after years, then maybe we are attacking or reacting on the wrong people. Maybe we need to step up and not just want to be heard when someone dies but all the time. I feel even though the officers were wrong and no one deserves to die but when you’re always the victim sometimes its by choice. We put ourselves in certain situations. It was extremely courageous that these photographers were able to capture these moments for us but also utterly reckless, stupid, and ridiculous.

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