A member of the Congressional Black Caucus took to the floor of the House on Monday to enter into the congressional record the names of the five St. Louis Rams football players who mimicked the “Hands up, don’t shoot” gesture made popular during the protests over the death of Michael Brown.
Texas U.S. Rep. Al Green called the Rams players’ gesture a “John Carlos moment” and hailed them as members of the “avant-garde.”
“I had a John Carlos moment because I saw this clip where the Rams players came into the arena, hands up, don’t shoot,” said Green, as he held his own hands high in the air.
Carlos was the U.S. Olympic athlete who, along with fellow teammate Tommy Smith, held his fist in the air on the medal podium at the 1968 Olympics in support of the Black Power movement that was popular at the time.
“Hands up, don’t shoot” became a rallying cry soon after Brown was shot on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., by police officer Darren Wilson. Several witnesses to the shooting claimed that Brown was holding his hands up in surrender before Wilson fatally shot him.
Other witnesses have since strongly disputed that Brown held his hands up, and some who initially made the claim have since modified it.
Nevertheless, the surrender pose has become a central part of the protests over both Brown’s death and a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision last week to not indict Wilson for the shooting.
“A new generation, has decided that they’re going to engage themselves in the liberation movement, the freedom movement if you will, the continuation of what happened in 1968 with John Carlos and Tommy Smith,” continued Green, saying he wanted to make sure that the names of the Rams players “are chronicled in history.”
“I want people who look back through the time to know who they were when they search the congressional record so I want to add their names to this record. I want Kenny Brit to be recognized. Tavon Austin to be recognized. Stedman Bailey to be recognized. Jared Cook. Craig Gibbons. And Tray Mayson. These are persons who in the years to come will be acknowledged as a part of the avant-garde.”
The five players entered the field at Edward Jones Stadium in St. Louis on Sunday with their hands in the popular pose. A St. Louis police union leader condemned the public display. The National Football League said it would not fine the players for the act.
Another member of the Congressional Black Caucus, New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, also referenced “Hands up, don’t shoot” in his House floor speech on Monday.
“Hands up, don’t shoot,” said Jeffries as he held his hands high. “It’s a rallying cry of people all across america who are fed up with police violence.”