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A man holds his hands up as he's confronted with police in Ferguson.
A man holds his hands up as he's confronted with police in Ferguson.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Hands up, don't shoot

The images that define Ferguson's protests

Two hands raised in the air is a classic gesture of surrender to authority. But protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, have turned it into a defiant symbol and a rallying cry: "Hands up, don't shoot!" Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death by a police officer on Saturday, August 9, in the St. Louis suburb. Eyewitnesses say that when the last shots were fired, Brown had his hands up. Ever since, many of Ferguson's black residents have vented their frustration, anger, and sadness at a variety of protests, boldly facing a heavy, intimidating police presence with their hands in the air. And like that, the gesture of submission that police often demand of civilians has become a provocative challenge. These photographs offer a glimpse of the way "hands up, don't shoot" has come to define the Ferguson demonstrations.

On Monday, August 11, outside of the Ferguson police department headquarters, protesters stand with their arms in the air. One man holds a sign that says "Please do not shoot: my hands are up!" Officials have not released the name of the officer who killed Brown. | Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images
A man in a hand-painted t-shirt waves his hands in the air in Ferguson on the evening of August 11, when police used tear gas and rubber and wooden bullets to disperse the crowds of demonstrators. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Ferguson residents on the night of August 11. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Residents gather near a police line on August 11. Although some demonstrators had engaged in looting the prevous night, protests on Monday and Tuesday were largely non-violent, although the combination of an overwhelming police presence and residents determined to make their voices heard made things very tense. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Protests extended outside of Ferguson. In nearby Clayton, Missouri, on August 12, a man holds up his hands in solidarity. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
A more peaceful protest on Tuesday, August 12, outside the Ferguson QuickTrip. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
In Clayton on August 12. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Protesters gathered outside of Greater St. Marks Family Church in St. Louis on August 12, while Brown's family, Al Sharpton, and community members discussed Brown's shooting death and the aftermath inside. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Protesters outside of the Ferguson police department on August 11. | Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images
Residents were frustrated by the police presence in their neighborhood on August 11, but they kept their hands up. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Demonstrators on August 12 in Ferguson. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
A peaceful but emotional protest in Ferguson on August 12. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
More from August 12 protests in Ferguson. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
A man in Ferguson holds up a "Don't Shoot" t-shirt. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Hands up in Ferguson on August 12, as the police look on. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

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