In the wake of the police-involved shooting death of unarmed black teen Mike Brown during the weekend, black youth are making the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown go viral. The powerful hashtag is being used by Twitter users to share photos of themselves in graduation gowns, in military uniforms or other innocent-looking pictures alongside one of them making hand gestures, smoking marijuana or drinking liquor, rhetorically asking which picture the media would use to portray them.
â€” Im a Vagician (@TroyTrippy) August 11, 2014
â€” #INDISSTREE (@BuddhaLeeRaye) August 10, 2014
â€” کریم (@blvckhippy_) August 11, 2014
â€” Alex Vause (@AyeBrae) August 11, 2014
â€” Gifty (@Gifty_Presenter) August 11, 2014
â€” King Ghidorah (@__TrillClinton) August 11, 2014
â€” ☽ ☾ (@moooongoddess) August 11, 2014
â€” dennardra ashlock (@Nana_St8Certi11) August 11, 2014
â€” Cursed No More (@CursedNoMore) August 11, 2014
The hashtag was sparked by the police-involved shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed black teen who was killed in suburban St. Louis. Brown, 18, was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, Saturday after an altercation involving the officer and another person. Police said Brown was involved in a struggle for the officer's gun.
News of the shooting sparked outrage and anger, with the NAACP and the Rev. Al Sharpton among those speaking out on Brown’s death.
"We're outraged because yet again a young African-American man has been killed by law enforcement," John Gaskin, one of the NAACP’s national board of directors and a member of the St. Louis County branch of the organization, told the Associated Press.
Sharpton called the incident “very disturbing” and said he was headed to Ferguson to be with Brown’s family.
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said her son was a high school graduate who was bound for college before his life was cut short. She told the AP police should have used a Taser or other means to subdue him instead of shooting him.
"I would like to see him go to jail with the death penalty,” she said of the officer involved.
Aside from #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, the hashtag #JusticeForMike also went viral on Twitter in response to the shooting.