#IfTheyGunnedMeDown: African-Americans Imagine How Media Would Cover Their Deaths

by
Fatimah Mazhar
August 11, 2014: Michael Brown is Missouri’s Trayvon Martin.

Angry demonstrations sparked after an 18-year-old African-American teenager Mike Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in his hometown of Ferguson on Saturday.

Although it's unclear what led to the shooting, the black community of the neighborhood alleges that the teenager’s death was a result of racist violence.

Dozens of protestors took to the streets on Sunday while many others expressed their outrage on social media platforms against the police officer who shot the unarmed teenager.

Some even criticized media’s unfair portrayal of Brown in news reports and turned the debate into a controversial hashtag on Twitter called #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

The Ferguson incident is being compared to the highly publicized 2012 case of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.

At that time, several bloggers posted photos of Martin throwing signs and sporting a grill, accusing him of being a gang member. Similarly, in Brown’s case, the teen was initially shown in a cap and gown at his high school graduation.

However, later media organizations and conservative websites started using a photo of Brown clad in a Nike Air jersey and throwing a "gang sign," thereby inferring that the young man might be a gang member.

When someone pointed out the biased usage of images on Twitter, many people – largely from the African-American community – began wondering how the media would portray them if they should be the victim of a police shooting.

Subsequently, the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown began, with users imagining what picture news outlets would choose to portray victims as miscreants.

Have a look at some of the posts:

Looting, Vandalism After Vigil

Reports of looting and vandalism emerged late on Sunday after thousands of people packed the suburban St. Louis area at a vigil for Mike Brown.

According to the Associated Press:

“People were seen carrying bags of food and toilet paper. TV footage showed streams of people walking out of a liquor store carrying bottles of alcohol, and in some cases protesters were standing atop police cars or taunting officers who stood stoic, often in riot gear.

Other witnesses reported seeing people vandalize police cars and kick in windows. Television footage showed windows busted out of a TV station van.”

David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff photographer posted the following image on Twitter.

A video of the alleged looting was also posted on YouTube:

Here’s a photo which shows smashed windows of a shop. 

Carbonated.TV