Mayor Kasim Reed joined celebs like Jeezy, Ludacris and Chris Tucker on stage during the annual United Negro College Fund’s Masked Ball back in December and did the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture for a photo. The photo went viral and got the some members of the Atlanta Police Department tight in the chest. They felt the Mayor was hypocritical for his gesture considering just months before he was praising the police for their cooperation when the city had its own bout with #BLACKLIVESMATTER protests.
The photo is one of many that stands with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” now-infamous pose, birthed out of the Ferguson protests against police brutality, yet police union leaders were “baffled” by Mayor Reed’s participation. Ken Allen, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623, spoke to Atlanta’s WSB TV’s Channel 2 News on their behalf, “The officers of Atlanta were extremely upset seeing that photo. I think Atlanta is a model of how to do things, and that this department has runs well [regarding] such situations [like police brutality] and in dealing with that.”
Allen later delivered a speech again calling out the bold move, “Police enforcement cannot be tarnished by the top elected leader…taking an active role in controversial tactics of protest and support.”
Mayor Reed’s camp soon followed with a statement, “His commitment and support of APD is unquestionable. His participation in the ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ photo addresses his disagreement with the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson. It it also a gesture that has been used in non-violent protests across the nation.”
To be fair, take a closer look at the photo. We think Mayor Reed looked a little bit nervous to hold his hands up, as his arms are noticeably lowered than everyone else. Maybe he was torn between his compassion for the Black lives that have been lost and his duty as a public official not to stir the port. We think it was brave he joined the movement against the obvious backlash. What the perturbed cops could try to understand is that Mayor Reed held his hands up to further encourage his ATL police to respond on the job as rational authority figures and not out of racism, which was what Darren Wilson clearly did that fateful August 9th when he killed Michael Brown.