Ferguson Protest: Tourists Pose With “Dead” Teen at LOVE Park

They seemed entirely unconcerned with the symbolic black corpse in their selfies.


On Saturday afternoon, Juilliard theater student Lee Edward Colston and Carver High School of Engineering and Science graduate Keith Wallace, among others, staged a silent Ferguson protest at iconic LOVE Park in Philadelphia, a popular destination with tourists for photo opportunities. And with Wallace — an MFA acting student at the University of California who is home on summer break — lying on the ground portraying Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot dead by Ferguson police, the tourists continued snapping their smiley photos.

“Keith laid on the ground motionless for an hour,” says Colston, who alternated between taking photos of the protest and holding the “Call Us By Our Names” sign seen in the above photo. (See Wallace’s artistic statement for the protest below.) “Some people were really moved and affected. Some weren’t and took photos of the body, because they just had to get their pictures at the LOVE statue. The commentary of what people were saying around us, some of it restored my faith in humanity, and some of it destroyed it.”

"There was an older white couple that wanted to take a picture in front of the LOVE statue," recounts Colston. "The older white gentleman said, 'Why do they have to shove their politics down our throats?' The woman replied, 'They're black kids, honey. They don't have anything better to do.'"

"There was one group of white guys who wanted to take a picture in front of the statue, but one of the guys in the group couldn't take his eyes off of Keith's 'body,'" Colston says. "His friends were trying to convince him to get in the picture. He told his friends, 'Something about this doesn't feel right, guys. I don't think we should.' One of his friends replied, 'Dude, come on … he's already dead.' Then they all laughed."

Not all the interactions were so negative. "There was a Latina woman with two young boys. She held her boys' hands and said to them, 'I want you to see this. This is important. Never be afraid to tell the truth.'"

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.

Wallace's artistic statement for the protest:

PHOTOS: Courtesy Lee Edward Colston

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  • Brennie Yancy Tellu

    So very proud of Lee and Keith for trying to bring awareness in an impactful way and perhaps begin a dialogue for change by peacefully illustrating the fact that black lives matter and the senseless murder of another black man shouldn’t be business as usuaual or acceptable. THINGS MUST CHANGE! #CallUsByOurNames #BlackLivesMatter

    • I care

      Does a cop’s life matter? What if the thug succeeding in getting the cop’s gun? Would you be upset that he killed to cop? Your values are warped.

      • Brennie Yancy Tellu

        Fortunately the opinion of an anonymous lurker utilizing keyboard courage is of no importance to me. And I deal in facts…and the fact is that the force used was excessive and his death was very avoidable. And I will continue to speak out BOLDLY and PROUDLY about the disparate treatment given to African Americans by law enforcement especially when excessive force is used. No need for anonymity. Good day.

        • Answer his questions.

          The fact that he is posting anonymously has no bearing on his argument. I know I wouldn’t waste my time creating an account on this BS site.
          Since you like facts, why don’t you cite your sources? Where did you get the evidence that the use of force by the officer was excessive?
          You’re right about one thing though. Brown could have easily avoided death by not attempting to attack the officer.

          • definition of excessive force

            the officer shot an unarmed man six times, some of those while he was on the ground. six times is excessive, dont ya think?

          • Matthew

            ^ I would like to re-arrange your sentence from pure speculation (on your part) to something that is slightly closer to reality: [Officer Darren] Wilson could have easily avoided a death, let alone potential multiple deaths, by not firing upon Michael Brown (at least) 10 times.

            Furthermore, the definition of excessive is “more than is necessary, normal, or desirable; immoderate”. Shooting an unarmed individual multiple times is becoming more common and it is certainly not normal, let alone desirable and/or necessary. So yes, this seems to be more and more of a case against Wilson’s use of excessive force.

          • Chynah Blaze

            The medical Examiner…. there is your FACTS!!! He stated that the boy’s hands were UP IN THE AIR!!! And still shot dead… I stand PROUD TO BE BLACK and will not stand for the injustice our “POLICE” department portrays!!! You, sir, are more than likely white and will never know the fear black men adn women face… There was no “THUG” it was a black college student with no background of being a criminal. When you make assumptions and state ignorance hidden as truth, then you my friend, has set this world back 60 years!!!

        • I care
          • Roger B

            Funny that appears on one conservative blog and nowhere else. Fact check. While obviously made up, it wouldn’t change the fact a police officer killed an unarmed man and left him there.

      • Kim W

        By all reports Michael Brown a) paid for the items police supporters claim he stole, b) had his hands up at the time he was shot, and c) wasn’t even under suspicion for shoplifting anyway. Exactly why are you accusing MICHAEL BROWN of being the “thug” as opposed to Darren Wilson?

        • I care

          What are you talking about? I haven’t seen a single report saying he paid for the cigars. More and more witnesses are coming forward saying the thug was attacking/charging the cop. He absolutely was under suspicion of shoplifting. You’re clearly living in a fantasy world of denial.

          • Roger B

            …and then an unarmed man was shot and killed, and left there.

          • I care

            He got what was coming to him.

          • Chynah Blaze

            Because you tend to overlook the truth, I’m guessing your with the Ferguson PD!!!

          • I care

            “you’re” Hooked on phonix done you gud!

        • Realist

          I’ve seen reports by people making excuses suggesting that he paid but the extended video shows that he didn’t because he reached across the counter grabbed a handful and let a couple packs drop to the ground before putting the handful back. He then bent down and picked up those packs that he dropped and proceeded to the door. I find it amazing that people want to believe that he paid when the clerk clearly tried to stop him at the door. Try paying for a dress at Macy’s then grab more items on your way out the door and see how that works out for you. I’m so sick of this arms in the air rhetoric that his thug friend says happened and the world is believing it. His story has changed several times but people still want to believe his story.

          • Chynah Blaze

            The video AND the store owner stated that the person on the tape was NOT Michael Brown and that no one called to report any type of robbery… #LIARS

          • Realist

            Ok. Let me educate you… If you want to believe that the video shows he paid, that’s on you. The store owner hasn’t talked to ANYONE and hasn’t stated ANYTHING. The store’s LAWYER made a statement that they didn’t know who Michael Brown was and that the person on the tape MAY or MAY NOT be Micheal Brown but that it wasn’t the clerk who called police, it was a customer in the store that called police. That’s what the store’s lawyer said so I’m not sure what your sources are. Maybe the streets?

            Speaking of the streets… BIG MIKE’S friend, Dorian Johnson already made a statement to police that it was BIG MIKE on the store video.

            Who’s the liar?

    • Eric the Red

      I don’t get the “call us by our names” angle.

    • JMS

      Great post. The senselss murders that take place DAILY in Philly, Baltimore, New Orleans, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc need to stop. Some people need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask why there is no outrage at the DAILY murders that occur in the own community by other community members. Unfortunately it’s business as ‘usuaual’ and acceptable. Why don’t you care about your fellow community members?

    • soulless

      psssh.. in case you didn’t know, blacks make up about 1/4 of the population in USA but committed more than 50% of the crimes. So yeah, i don’t blame cops and others for treating blacks in such a negative way

      • Guest

        White people are serial rapist, murderers, KKK members doing god knows what to people, and yet you have only facts about US!! I smell a hypocrite!!!









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  • I care

    Don’t let the facts get in the way. Your thieving hoodrat hero was never shot in the back. Autopsy proves it.

    • Tracer Bullet

      So it’s okay to shoot an unarmed teenager six times so long as you’re shooting him in the face?

      • I care

        That’s not the point. You’re “dead person” in the pictures above makes it appear as if he was shot in the back to further your agenda. And yes, if the oversized thug was struggling with a cop to get his gun after he just robbed a cigar store, it’s absolutely ok to shoot him.

        • Tracer Bullet

          Yes, my agenda includes unarmed teenagers not getting shot. Whether they’re shot in the back or the face is beside the point.

          The autopsy found no gunshot residue on his clothes, which means Brown was some distance from the officer which also means that he wasn’t “struggling with a cop to get his gun.” Further, the report said Brown’s hands were up so, unless he had rocket launchers in his armpits, it’s at best a stretch to argue that our trigger-happy policeman was in danger for his life at the time he fired six times.

          Furthermore, IF he stole those cigars, which hasn’t been proven, that’s no justification for killing an unharmed teenager, especially since the Ferguson police chief admitted that Wilson didn’t know Brown was a suspct in that robbery.

          • Lisa

            Thank you!

          • Realist

            You mention the autopsy then mention a report of his arms being up in the same sentence. The autopsy does not show that his arms were up. Only his thug friend says this and the world wants to believe it.

            A 292lb 6.5 foot man running at you when you’ve already been injured is absolutely a threat to your life.

            Yes the video does show that he stole the cigars that he let drop to the floor from the bunch he grabbed across the counter and then picked up on his way out the door. When he shoved the clerk he turned his theft into a robbery.

    • SydTheKyd

      Do not feed the troll, y’all :/

  • tonyb

    Seems everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.

    • Kim W

      “I Care” certainly seems to be an attention hog, anyway…

  • Cate S

    I think that was a very powerful statement on the part of these kids, Gandhi like, in a way. Good for them for bringing attention to a criminal police act.

  • Enuf already

    Its not only black lives that matter, its ALL lives that matter. As we’re finding out, NO ONE had the facts of the situation, NOT the cop, NOT the media, NOT the public yet it went immediately to racism, hate, loot, riot, destruction of personal property, steal, shooting of guns, throwing Molotov cocktails.
    And in all of this…..what was the purpose of all? Sensationlism, mistruths because it brought about increased ratings, site hits, building of political gain, power and wealth. Who gained by misleading the public?
    So tell me as of today its come to light…that this innocent gentle giant, dreaming of his first day at college had just committed a crime, walking in the middle of the street. The cop had not yet been notified of this but was most likely telling him to get out of the street, but the innocent guy knew he committed the crime and like anyone else would think that the cops knew about it. Did he rush him thinking…..as 2 autopsies have shown one done by the family, he was NOT shot in the back running away but fromt he front. The size of him and the officer. I think before we point fingers, make further accusations, loot, riot, we should allow the FACTS come to light.

  • Young black man

    Sad to say but arguing with someone of the opposite race is a dead end. He already showed he doesn’t care by his first comment. Just dont feed into his racism

  • Victor Fiorillo

    Victor Fiorillo you’ve got some balls calling this crap journalism. Those people were just tourists trying to get a picture with the LOVE statue. They’re not taking selfies with the “body”. Just because you chose to take pictures with the “body” as the focus, doesn’t mean they were.
    Why should they avoid taking pictures just because these guys decided to pull a stunt in front of one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations?
    Shame on you for trying to twist this something it’s not in order to generate traffic. People like you are doing more to hurt the cause than help by writing this garbage.

    • Disqus Hates Its Users

      Thank you, I’m tired of arguing with people over this because they don’t comprehend that a crappy sign that doesn’t make sense and just parking in front of a place a lot of non English speaking tourists are going to see is somehow everyone being racist. No, make your point properly or nobody is going to take you serious, it’s not hard.

    • FrumpyCat

      Agreed, thank you! This is just another poor attempt at a Race Bait article.

  • Hezekiah Stephan Shabazz

    Important and upsetting work, theatre artists. Thank you. Meanwhile, right on, Philly Mag: all whites are definitely racist shitheads. Latinas with kids, sometimes not. But always all whites. Cracker jack reporting, guys.

  • JA

    Is it just me, or is it really disturbing that people are pulling these ‘cutesy’ facebook/instagram/selfie smiles while getting in the photo with this protest? You needed to impose into the protest that badly to get a lame photograph?

    • JA

      Then again, at least the word is getting out in these peoples photographs… I can see that somewhat working.

  • Th3bask3t

    I Just LOVE how people are so quick to jump on the RACISM AND RACIST bandwagon…. What if Mike was a preppy white kid…
    1) He would have never been stopped … or Shot …
    But What if He was White ???? Would these people still argue the facts even if both Mike and The officer were White ……. I THINK NOT!!!!!!!!
    2) Most of these people that quote ignorant media propaganda made for Racist Police Support ..
    3) Did you hear about the (#ferguson) Police officer who choked and Hog tied a 12 Year old Black child??? I thought we are all treated the same …… I scoff at people who play the race card and call humans animals because they are treated unfairly …
    Blacks have been slaves for over 500years … But yet people forget …… 20+ Million Murdered but yet people forget ….. SHAME ON YOU …

  • Guest

    I would have to side with the tourists on this one (minus the crude statement from the old “white couple” if it was even truly said to begin with).

    I found the article awfully biased. There is just no way that even one of those tourists would think that he was actually dead NO MATTER HOW THE ARTICLE SAYS SO.

    The fact that there weren’t any cops blocking the premises and that everybody else in the seems to be not paying mind to signaled that it wasn’t real.

    Quite frankly, if that landmark was in one of my bucket list, I couldn’t care less if there was a protester around, in front, or below it. I’d still take a picture.

    People drive hours and fly from other countries to visit landmarks for a few minutes of enjoyment. We already live in a time where we’re witnessing ethnic cleansing, riots, kids getting shot, famine, looting, political corruption. Why ruin this short moment for other people?

    I am nobody to say that his statement was crap. That’s his stand on this issue. My only concern is that he had to drag people who had nothing to do with the shooting with him. If he wanted to make a statement, why not do it in front of a police department?