Hands Up United



Florrisant, MO




Tara Thompson


Black Lives Matter group

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Hands Up United is a Missouri-based, left-of-center organization affiliated with Black Lives Matter that seeks “black liberation” through the systematic restructuring of police departments across the United States.

Hands Up United does not have any public financial records and does not appear to have a formal nonprofit designation. Hands Up United has, however, received funding from the New World Foundation and the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ), two left-wing fiscal sponsorship organizations. 12 AfGJ has numerous associations with the radical left, running efforts in defense of the de facto socialist dictatorship of Venezuela,3 publishing a defense of the North Korean regime,4 and taking actions on behalf of radical-left extremists including Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal. 5 6 7

Although Hands Up United’s website has no staff listed, Tara Thompson is described as the organization’s director in a 2015 blog post. 8 Thompson is also described as the organization’s Tech Institute’s director and leader on another website. 9 In a 2015 interview, Thompson described her efforts as aiming to raise the consciousness of the American people, so that they will join a “resistance” that will eventually launch a “revolution” against racism and capitalism. 10

2014 Ferguson Protests

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown died in a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. In the wake of his death, protests erupted throughout the United States. Hands Up United was formed shortly after the incident by a group of young African-American activists in Missouri, including Tara Thompson, Rika Tyler, Tef Poe, Tory Russel, and hip-hop artist T-Dubb-O. The organization was advised by activist groups in Europe and Latin America. 11 An activist group from  the disputed Palestinian territories provided advice to Hands Up United on how protestors can protect themselves from tear gas. 12

Hands Up United became one of the early groups in the Black Lives Matter movement and led protests in Ferguson. 13 In August of 2014, Hands Up United coordinated the nationwide “Hands Up, Walk Out” demonstrations based primarily on college campuses. 14

Upon its founding, Hands Up United issued a list of local and national demands. Its local demands were to arrest Darren Wilson, the police officer who had killed Brown; to fire Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson and county prosecutor Robert McCullough; and to release all individuals arrested in the protests and riots in the wake of Brown’s death. Nationally, the organization demanded that then-President Barack Obama come to Ferguson, that Attorney General Eric Holder lead a nationwide crackdown on police violence, and that all police officers who have used excessive force be immediately suspended without pay and placed on a public registry. 15

On November 12, 2014, Brown’s parents delivered a statement to the United Nations Committee Against Torture with the support of Hands Up United, the Organization for Black Struggle, and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. The parents alleged that Ferguson police officers had killed their son while violating the UN’s guidelines set out in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 16

An investigation by the Obama administration Department of Justice concluded that Wilson had not violated federal civil rights laws in the shooting and reasonably feared for his life and cast doubts on the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative from which Hands Up United drew its name. 17


Books and Breakfast

In 2015, Hands Up United launched Books and Breakfast, a program to boost literacy, donate books, provide meals to low-income individuals, and host reading circles focused on African-American literature. 18

Tech Institute

Hands Up United runs the Tech Institute, which provides online programming workshops for individuals and small businesses. 19

People’s Pantry

Hands Up United organizes the People’s Pantry, a local food pantry which allegedly counteracts the negative impacts on poor Americans caused by supposedly frequent military actions by the American government. 20

Freedom Gangs

Hands Up United organizes Freedom Gangs, male-only or female-only discussion groups focused on politics and “black liberation.” 21

It’s Ok to Dream

It’s OK to Dream helps African-American children and teens to achieve their career goals, which Hands Up United alleges are stifled by systematic oppression. 22

A Million Guns

On November 8, 2020, Hands Up United announced the launch of A Million Guns, a program to train African Americas on how to use guns and understand gun laws to reduce gun violence among black Americans. 23


  1. “AfGj’s Fiscally Sponsored Projects.” Alliance for Global Justice. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  2. “Jay Z’s Tidal Donates $1.5 Million to Black Lives Matter and Several Other Social Justice Organizations.” Good Black News. February 7, 2016. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  3. “Protest at OAS says ‘U.S. hands off Venezuela!’” Workers World. June 09, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2017.
  4. Smith, Stansfield. “An Interview with North Koreans.” Alliance for Global Justice. April 07, 2013. Accessed December 07, 2017. version: Smith, Stan. “A Korean View of Current Situation.” Workers World, April 12, 2013. Archived version of both: AfGJ + – North Korea
  5. “Political Prisoners in the USA.” Alliance for Global Justice. September 07, 2017. Accessed December 08, 2017.
  6. Pamela Anderson Foundation, Return of a Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2014, Part XV
  7. “AfGJ’s Fiscally Sponsored Projects.” Alliance for Global Justice. Accessed December 08, 2017.
  8. Thompson, Tara. “Opinion: #Whichemergency Are We Working On This Week, Steve Stenger? By Tara Thompson.” August 13, 2015. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  9. “Hands Up United.” United Way. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  10. “Michael Brown, One Year Later.” Color Lines. August 7, 2015. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  11. “Chris Hedges: Rise of the New Black Radicals.” Vox Populi. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  12. Dawn, April. “Ferguson Activists Bring Solidarity To Palestine With Poetry and Song.” Source. January 16, 2015. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  13. Mejia, Paula. “’Ferguson October’ Marches Through St. Louis.” Newsweek. November 11, 2014. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  14. Kite, Allison. “University students, staff and faculty participate “Hands Up, Walk Out” demonstration on Wescoe Beach.” The University Daily Kansan. August 25, 2014. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  15. “Our Spark:.” Hands Up United. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  16. Sever, Leslie. “Michael Brown’s parents take their case to the United Nations torture panel.” December 5, 2014. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  17. Byers, Christine. “Justice Department Finds That Ferguson Officer Did Not Violate Michael Brown’s Rights.”, March 5, 2015.
  18. “Over 60,000 Books Shared and 20,000 Meals Served.” Hands Up United. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  19. “Tech Institute.” Hands Up Institute. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  20. “The People’s Pantry.” Hands Up United. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  21. “Freedom Gangs.” Hands Up United. November 9, 2020.
  22. “It’s Ok To Dream.” Hands Up United. Accessed November 9, 2020.
  23. “Hands Up United.” Twitter. November 8, 2020. Accessed November 9, 2020.
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Hands Up United

Florrisant, MO