Students, Workers Participate in 'Hands Up, Walkout' Demonstrations Nationwide
Students and workers across the US walked out of classrooms and offices on Monday, as nationwide protests following the decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown continued into a second week.
The “Hands Up Walkout” demonstrations – named after the “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” slogan that was adopted by protesters in the immediate aftermath of Brown’s death – were planned to occur at dozens of campuses and public places, according to a map of locations published by organisers.
In New York City, hundreds of protesters gathered at Union Square; in Cambridge, Massachusetts, students reportedly closed down Harvard Square; and in Clayton, Missouri, students at Clayton high school staged a so-called “die-in”. There were four actions planned in the vicinity of St Louis, where Brown was shot dead in the suburb of Ferguson on 9 August, and dozens planned in states around the US.
Organisers used the anniversary of Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her bus seat for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, as a galvanising image on social media. The iconic moment in US civil rights history occurred 59 years ago, on 1 December 1955.
Parks’s booking photo following her second arrest, in 1956, was circulating under the #HandsUpWalkout hashtag along with the question “What risk will you take today?”
Images of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s were also employed during protests over the weekend, as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began a week-long march from Ferguson, Missouri, to the state governor’s mansion in Jefferson City.
The NAACP president, Cornell William Brooks, told the Guardian that the march was designed to inspire the spirit of the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965.
On Sunday, five players from the St Louis Rams NFL team made “hands up” gestures before a game against the Oakland Raiders, in a show of solidarity with Brown and his family.
The move drew criticism from the St Louis Police Officers Association, which described it as “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory” and called for the players to be disciplined.
Protests have been staged across the US since a grand jury decision not to indict Wilson for Brown’s shooting prompted rioting in Ferguson and demonstrations elsewhere.