News & Politics

Howard University Students Take Powerful Photo in Response to Michael Brown Shooting

More than 300 students posed to protest the police killing of an unarmed black teenager.

Photograph courtesy of Howard University.

One of the many unsettling things to come out of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of local police is demonstrators’ rallying cry of “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The slogan emerged from accounts of witnesses to the death Saturday of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who is said to have put his hands over his head before he was shot and killed by an officer.

Since Brown’s death, Ferguson has been engulfed by protests and heavily armed police units. Wednesday night, as more harrowing stories flowed out of the St. Louis suburb—including the arrests of two reporters from Washington and tear gas being fired into crowds seemingly indiscriminately—a large group of students at Howard University staged their own response.

More than 300 students, back on campus to prepare for freshman orientation, posed for a photo inside Cramton Auditorium on the historically black college’s Northwest DC campus with their hands over their heads in solidarity with the protestors in Ferguson. Megan Sims, a junior at Howard, tweeted out the photo, which has since gone quite viral. As of 11:30 AM, it had been retweeted nearly 8,000 times.

“Powerful picture we took today at Howard University #Ferguson #MikeBrown #MyaWhite #DONTSHOOT,” Sims wrote in the accompanying tweet. Besides Brown, the tweet also refers to Mya White, a Howard alumna who was wounded Wednesday while participating in a demonstration in Ferguson.

Protests and rallies in response to Brown’s death are spreading beyond Missouri, with vigils planned for 7 tonight in DC’s Meridian Hill Park, a parking lot at Minnieville Road and Dale Boulevard in Woodbridge, and Dock Street in Annapolis.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.