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Council member defends ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ sign on his desk

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By Liz Gelardi

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The phrase "hands up, don't shoot" has become a rallying cry in Ferguson, Missouri and it has led to a public outcry in Indy. Signs bearing that phrase were taped to the desks of five Indianapolis city-county council members and visible during Monday night's council meeting.

The signs have raises questions about what kind of message the council members were trying to send. Some were also upset about the timing, August 18 marked 10 years since IMPD Officer Jake Laird was killed in the line of duty. Councillors observed a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting to remember Laird.

Some of those council members are defending their decision to put up the signs. Councillor Brian Mahern has heard from several constituents who questioned why he put the sign on his desk. Mahern said he was not trying to pick sides.

"Elected officials have a responsibility to speak up on important issues, this is an important issue of the day and I think we need to make sure that the facts are known," said Mahern.

In Ferguson, all of the facts are not out yet. An autopsy shows police shot 18-year-old Michael Brown at least six times. The shooting of the unarmed teen has sparked a series of riots and protests lasting more than a week. It is also unclear if Brown even had his hands up when the officer shot him. The incident remains under investigation by local agencies and the U.S. Justice Department.

"Baseless in my opinion as a police officer. It's baseless for this community, it divisive and doesn't make sense to do it," said Bill Owensby, President of FOP Lodge 86.

Councillor Monroe Gray said he put the sign up to show his support for the Brown family. He told FOX59 he decided to express his viewpoint after a lengthy conversation with other council members.

The following council members had the signs on their desks; Vop Osili, Joe Simpson, Leroy Robinson, Brian Mahern and Monroe Gray.