There have been large-scale and high-profile protests in the US since the police shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. Following the recent decision not to charge the police officer who shot Brown, similar protests have sprung up in London with hundreds or, by some reports, thousands of people gathering outside the US embassy.
Missouri teenager Mike Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson after being stopped for jaywalking. Witness accounts differ as to exact details, but it is clear that Brown was running away at the time he was killed, and many claim that he had his hands raised in surrender during at least part of the confrontation. Wilson fired a total of twelve shots over the course of the incident, with six hitting Brown and the final one killing him.
The shooting was followed by massive local protests, and controversy about the way US police departments are armed. In particular, critics have drawn attention to the way the police are coming increasingly militarised, being supplied with heavier weapons which they are often poorly trained in utilising. Another key issue raised was the way the police treat black suspects. Brown was shot by a white policeman patrolling a predominantly black neighbourhood. Statistics have been pointed out such as the fact that black people are significantly underrepresented in Ferguson’s police force, and that, though drug use is equally prevalent among black and white residents of the area, black residents are significantly more likely to be stopped, searched and prosecuted for possession.
Protests, sometimes peaceful and sometimes violent, broke out in the area with “hands up don’t shoot” being used as a chant. Protests and controversy alike have been reignited by the announcement that Wilson will not face prosecution for killing Brown. The “hands up don’t shoot” chant is now also being used by the London protestors, who have gathered outside the city’s US embassy.
The protestors initially observed a minute’s silence, and then proceeded to march down Oxford Street towards Parliament Square. The protest was reportedly organised by two campaign groups, London Black Revolutionaries and Stand Up To Racism. As well as repeating the chant that was first raised by Ferguson protestors, those in attendance are also using chants such as “Killer Police Off Our Streets.” Many are bearing signs with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter,” Justice for Michael Brown” and No Justice No peace.”
The protest has been described as loud and lively, but remains non-violent.