The Chilling 'New Yorker' Ferguson Cover References "Hands Up, Don't Shoot"
The fatal shooting of Michael Brown nearly two weeks ago left Ferguson with violent protests, a rising police state, and a widening racial divide. Amid what some are calling the new civil rights movement, one protest motif has emerged as the battle cry of the protestors: "Hands up, don't shoot!" Demonstrators throw their hands up as they chant — a powerful and visual way of asking, "Was an unarmed teen shot because of his race?" Now, the coming issue of The New Yorker features "Hands up, don't shoot!" in the form of a painting, and it's an eerie snapshot of our times.
The painting depicts a group of people with their hands up as they face a police officer atop a military tank with a rifle aimed at the crowd. The scene is rendered in tones of red, orange, and brown, evoking images of fire and violence. Even though the artwork is abstract in style, it clearly illustrates a scene of fear and tension.
The man behind the cover is New York artist Eric Drooker, who told The New Yorker he feels a personal connection to the Michael Brown shooting. In 1991, a friend of his was killed by a police officer, who was never indicted. Like Michael Brown, Drooker's friend was black. Drooker also grew up witnessing similar scenes of unrest of heavy police presence in his own neighborhood.
Drooker told The New Yorker:
As a resident of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, I witnessed the blurring distinctions between the police and military during the Tompkins Square riots of the eighties. I’ll never forget the day the N.Y.P.D. showed up in a military tank to evict nonviolent squatter friends from buildings on Avenue B and Thirteenth Street, where I grew up....
Of course, rubber bullets, tear gas, and Tasers have been used for a while — on nonviolent anti-war protests at the dawn of the Iraq invasion, not to mention Occupy — but the U.S. media has often chosen to ignore these images. Now that billions have been spent and the equipment is in place throughout the country, the intensive militarization of America’s police forces is finally being acknowledged after the horrors of Ferguson.
It's worth noticing how similar the cover is to real-life scenes from Ferguson.
The juxtaposition of a lone figure with his hands up yelling, "Don't shoot!" against a backdrop of troops and tanks poised to fire is incredibly poignant. It's a visual reminder that not only tells the story of Ferguson, but paints a picture of racial tension in America. It speaks for not only Michael Brown, but also Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, and countless others.
Images: The New Yorker, Getty (1)