"Hands Up, Don't Shoot!" The Body Rhetoric of Ferguson
Chrisman, Micah, J.
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This research examined the evolution of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement from a social movement rhetoric (SMR) standpoint. Specifically, it explored the “confrontational rhetoric,” “image rhetoric,” and “body rhetoric” of the Ferguson, Mo., protestors and their utilization of the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” gesture after a local 18-year-old black youth, Michael Brown, was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. In the year since Brown’s death, the Ferguson protests continue to spark similar demonstrations across the U.S., and all over the world. Since the Ferguson protests, and later the BLM demonstrations, are affecting public policies, law enforcement, and political leaders alike, this researcher discovered that the persuasive arguments being made within this movement highlight societal issues regarding racial discrimination, police brutality, and the militarization of police forces within the U.S. Overall, the rhetorical analysis of these demonstrations affords better insight into the persuasive exigencies fueling this movement and the social and political implications that have followed in its wake.