Don Lemon: 'Hands Up Don't Shoot'—Fake But Accurate!

November 24th, 2022 11:28 AM

Shades of Dan Rather!

On CNN This Morning, Don Lemon tried to make the case that, despite being debunked by a Justice Department investigation and report, the Ferguson-born slogan of "hands up, don't shoot" was fake but accurate.  As Lemon put it:

"Remember, hands up don't shoot, after Ferguson, became a nationwide protest symbol for police mistreatment of minorities. It was about more than the shooting of Michael Brown.

Note that Lemon only spoke of a "DoJ report" on Ferguson, debunking the "hands, up, don't shoot," claim. Lemon never revealed that the report was authored under the Justice Department leadership of Eric Holder, then-President Obama's attorney general and close confidant.

Lemon made his claim in the context of criticizing Elon Musk for mocking the piles of #Stay Woke t-shirts he found at Twitter. He accused Musk of having "repeated a right-wing talking point suggesting that the protests following Brown's death were overblown."

Let's have a look at the article on the subject from the Washington Post—hardly a "hotbed of right-wing talking points." Entitled, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ did not happen in Ferguson," the article gives Four Pinnochios to people claiming the contrary, and concludes [emphasis added]:

"Investigators have overwhelmingly rejected witness accounts that Brown had his hands up in a surrender before being shot execution-style. The DOJ has concluded Wilson did not know whether Brown was armed, acted out of self-defense and was justified in killing Brown. The majority of witnesses told federal investigators that the initial claims that Brown’s hands were up were not accurate. “Hands up, don’t shoot” did not happen in Brown’s killing, and it is a characterization that deserves Four Pinocchios."

Lemon had the chutzpah to claim during the segment, "facts first here on CNN."Don Lemon CNN This Morning 11-24-22

We got your facts right here, Don. Same goes for Poppy Harlow, who after Lemon concluded his spiel, solemnly intoned, "Don, thank you for that. It's important to have the facts." 

On CNN This Morning, Don Lemon trying to explain away the fact that "hands up, don't shoot" didn't actually happen in Ferguson was sponsored in part by Pfizer, maker of  Nexium and Chapstick.

Here's the transcript.

CNN This Morning
6:15 am ET

ELON MUSK: Here we are at the merch thing. And there's an entire, entire closet full of -- secret closet--off hashtag woke t-shirts. 

DON LEMON: That was Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, mocking a t-shirt the company made years ago in an effort to show support for its black employees and users. Previous owner Jack Dorsey wore the shirt during a 2016 panel with civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson. Some critics ridiculed him for him wearing it. 

During the panel, Dorsey mentioned being on the ground in Ferguson for protests over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. 

In a now-deleted follow-up tweet, Musk noted that the shirts came after the Ferguson protests, and repeated a right-wing talking point suggesting that the protests following Brown's death were overblown.

And he wrote, and I quote here, "hands up, don't shoot" was made up. The whole thing was a fiction. 
Now, Musk replaced the deleted tweet with a follow-up tweet containing only the link to a Department of Justice report on Brown's death.

Okay, facts first here on CNN. Musk said that "hands up, don't shoot" was made up -- the whole thing was a fiction. This needs some context.

[Cut to clip of Ferguson protesters chanting, "hands up, don't shoot.]
So the phrase hands up, don't shoot became a national rallying cry in 2014 in solidarity with Michael Brown, the black teenager who some witnesses said had his hands up to surrender when he was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. 

In 2015, the Justice Department cast doubt on the "hands up" account, concluding in a report that Wilson shot Brown multiple times only as Brown was moving towards the officer. This is what Musk is referencing in his tweets. 

The DoJ did not find grounds to charge the officer. But in a separate report released the same day, it did find evidence of systematic racial discrimination in Ferguson at the hands of the city's police department and municipal court. Now, the DoJ, in a scathing report, pointed to the statistics for proof. Black people in Ferguson are twice as likely to be searched during vehicle stops than whites. Though white people were found to have contraband at a higher rate than black people. At least 85% of those pulled over, ticketed, or arrested for traffic violations were black, and the Justice Department said it was money not public safety that the department and the city focused on. And black citizens paid the highest price. 

So remember, hands up don't shoot, after Ferguson, became a nationwide protest symbol for police mistreatment of minoritie. It was about more than the shooting of Michael Brown. This is about the pattern of police shootings and brutality in this country. And hashtag "Stay Woke," which Musk mocked, was how Twitter wanted called out racial injustice -- how they wanted to call out racial injustice. Poppy? 

POPPY HARLOW: Don, thank you for that. It's important to have the facts.