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#IfTheyGunnedMeDown blasts media’s take on Mike Brown slaying

A thought experiment reveals the depths of journalistic bias.


Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 11, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 7:14 pm CDT

As the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it would investigate the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, killed by police gunfire in suburban St. Louis on Saturday night, Twitter users began to criticize mainstream media’s biased coverage of the story thus far. 

Aside from shifting focus to the riots and looting that followed the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., readers said, journalists made Brown another victim of what the Root labeled “the Trayvon Martin effect,” running only the photos from his social media accounts that suggest a thuggish nature. This led to the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, which minorities used to ponder how they would be portrayed if murdered by law enforcement (or the next George Zimmerman):

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown would I be seen as gang affiliated or a leader in education ?

— BigBrotherAlmighty (@AfricanMalcolm) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown they’d say i was a thug

— Dev (@DevinDinero) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag says it all, for the consistent injustice against black people in AmeriKKKa. #MikeBrown

— Rachel Michelé Green (@RachelMicheleG) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown I have a feeling I know what picture they’d use.

— Pete Haviland-Eduah (@TheNotoriousPHE) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown which pic would they use on the news????

— michael cera fanclub (@StealUrGirlBush) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown campaign in response to 18yo Mike Brown’s death by St. Louis police

— Love, InshAllah (@LoveInshAllah) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown what group pictures would they use ?

— Krash Bandicoot (@KeiffN) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown am I urban or a bright young man

— PrimeTime (@_TanSuperman) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown would I get 370 words or just 6?

— Someone actually (@imanilindsay) August 11, 2014

What the media did with Mark Duggan #IfTheyGunnedMeDown

— JMTH (@JacobMTH) August 10, 2014


— Brandon U. Johnson (@brandonujohnson) August 11, 2014

I Came across this young lady a couple months ago on IG. Don’t judge a book by its cover #IfTheyGunnedMeDown 🚶

— 20 Sept✨ (@DaMandemGlucose) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown Which picture would they use?…probably the middle school gangsta myspace pic 😐

— Delincy…BRUH (@DeliNeli) August 11, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown, and I was unarmed, what picture would the media use to create a racialized bias?

— LEFT (@LeftSentThis) August 10, 2014

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown which pic would they use?

— KJ (@JonnyProton) August 10, 2014

Rage over the apparently senseless killing is hardly limited to this corner of the Internet: The hacktivist collective Anonymous launched #OpFerguson, an attack that echoes the group’s involvement in exposing the municipal cover-up of a 2012 rape in Steubenville, Ohio.

Confirmed: Anonymous group hacked into the City of #Ferguson website last night. All city emails are down.

— KMOV (@KMOV) August 11, 2014

Ferguson police officials say Brown attempted to grab an officer’s gun before reportedly running from a patrole vehicle with his hands in the air. The officer who shot Brown is currently on paid administrative leave.

Photo via @WhoISdeante/Twitter

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*First Published: Aug 11, 2014, 4:42 pm CDT