US & Canada

#BBCtrending: Moments of silence for Michael Brown

People gather in Decatur near Atlanta Georgia on 14 August 2014 Image copyright @_TheSpeakEasy
Image caption Atlanta residents gather in Decatur, Georgia for a moment of silence for Mike Brown

As the protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, a unified national moment of silence was held in cities across the United States on Thursday night.

Organiser Feminista Jones says that the National Moment of Silence, known as #NMOS14 on social media, was created in the wake of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the police response to local protests.

"With the shooting of Mike Brown, and now how Ferguson is being occupied by a military presence, people are upset and angry," Ms Jones told the BBC.

"I have a large platform so I knew I could reach people and make things happen."

Image copyright Ebony Elizabeth
Image caption Moment of silence in Hart Plaza in Detroit, Michigan

Ms Jones, a feminist blogger and social worker, put a call out to her 30,400 Twitter followers the day after the shooting of Mr Brown, asking them to help her organise National Moment of Silence vigils across the nation.

Within just a few days, more than 50 vigils had been set up. Some city organisers were expecting more than a thousand participants on Thursday night.

To identify those who are participating in the movements and as a sign of solidarity, organisers have requested that participants wear a red ribbon, cloth or bandana on their arm.

The event in Washington DC was attended by hundreds of people in Malcolm X Park, many holding placards saying: "Hands up. Don't shoot". Protesters in the city later walked down a major street chanting the slogan.

Similar vigils were held in New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago and many other cities.

Image copyright Valerie Jean-Charles
Image caption "Hands-up. Don't Shoot"

For many organisers, this is their first time participating in a crowd-sourced event.

"It's amazing how everyone has come together on this by using hashtags and connecting on the social media websites," says Chicago organiser Kimberly Sewell.

Ms Sewell sees this as her personal responsibility.

"I was born in the Cabrini-Green housing projects and I was used to seeing heavy police presence in my neighbourhood as a young child," she said.

"I grew up hoping that we could lessen the police presence in communities like these. This is a time when we can say enough is enough."

Image copyright Clarise McCants
Image caption Washington DC gathering for Mike Brown

Other groups across the country have participated in social media protests in other ways.

Students from Howard University in Washington, DC, took a photo of hundreds of upperclassmen with their hands stretched in the air. The photo has been re-tweeted over 5,000 times.

Image copyright Howard Student Association
Image caption Howard students protest the killing of Michael Brown

"Mike Brown was supposed to start college on the Monday after the shooting. That could have been any one of us," said Howard University student Khalil Saadiq, who came up with the idea for the photo.

"If you had been in the auditorium, you would have felt the power of progress."

Howard University photo courtesy of Ikenna Ikeotuonye and the Howard University Student Association.

Reporting by Annie P Waldman

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