On August 9, 2014, an 18-year-old African-American man named Michael Brown was fatally shot by a 28-year-old white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, in the United States . Brown was accompanied by his 22-year-old friend Dorian Johnson at the time of the shooting.

Brown and Johnson were walking in the middle of Canfield Drive, a two-lane street in St Louis suburb of Ferguson, when a police officer asked them to use the pavement, news agency Associated Press reported. After a heated exchange of words between the two, police officer Wilson shot an unarmed Brown and killed him.

The incident sparked unrest in the area, triggering a series of protests. The slogan “hands up, don’t shoot” originated from the protests against the killing of Brown. One witness had initially claimed that Brown had his hands up in the air before he was shot, but the account was later recanted. This slogan was then raised across the United States in cases of police violence.

According to Wilson, Brown had first punched him in his face. The teenager also grabbed the police officer’s gun when he drew it to safeguard himself, Wilson added.

To tackle the protests against Wilson, police in Ferguson used tear gas and rubber bullets, Associated Press reported. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon even declared an emergency and put Ferguson under curfew.

Demonstrations against the Brown’s shooting also turned violent at times. In March 2015, two police officers were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department during a demonstration.

In November 2014, the decision to not indict Wilson was announced, leading to violence in the streets of Ferguson. Several buildings were set on fire, and vehicles on the road were vandalised.


The killing of Michael Brown in 2014 was one of the inspirations behind Kendrick Lamar’s song Alright, which was released in 2016.


Read all the articles in the Art of Resistance series here.