Following months of protests and demonstrations over the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was shot by a white police officer in suburban St. Louis, a group of River Parishes residents built and burned a 17-foot-tall wooden structure in Lucy that shows the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture that has become synonymous with protests against the August killing, which spurred a national debate about ongoing tensions between law enforcement and the black community.
The bonfire burned Wednesday night, along with many more traditional constructions that typically line River Road this time of year in a tradition that dates back to the 1800s.
“We just got to talking about it, and with all the stuff that’s going on, we decided to do something just to show some solidarity, a little tribute and something different, something unique,” said Harold LaGrange, a Lucy resident who helped organize the effort. “It started out talking about having one hand in the air — like a No. 1 — but the more we started getting into it, we decided, ‘Let’s do the “hands up” gesture.’ ”