A simple picture, taken during a Wednesday night gathering at Howard University, has gone viral -- and for good reason.
Hundreds of wide-eyed students stand with their arms raised and palms extended, staring solemnly at the camera. A hashtag in the Twitter caption reads, "Don't shoot."
The photo is a response to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man in Ferguson, Missouri, earlier this month, and the shooting of Mya White, a Howard University alumna, who reportedly was shot in the head in Ferguson as she protested Brown's treatment.
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— Megan Sims (@The_Blackness48) August 14, 2014
Their pose is a nod to reports of Brown's posture before he was shot to death. According to eyewitness Dorian Johnson, Brown had turned to face the officer with his hands in the air, but was gunned down before he could finish telling the officer he was unarmed.
"I hope people look at the picture and see that the issue is bigger than Mike Brown, bigger than Eric Garner, bigger than so many other young blacks killed by the police,” Megan Sims, a junior at Howard, told BuzzFeed. “This issue is about the fact that this country is not post-racial, this country is not just, this country is not free.”
"We had the option to opt out of the picture, but I chose to get involved because this is a very close issue to my heart,” Sims added.
Sims told Mother Jones the group in the photo had originally assembled for a meeting on the freshmen move-in process; they took the photo after realizing "we needed to respond to the Mike Brown issue."