Indianapolis resident Tiffany Pettiford brought her 8-year-old son, Joseph Duerson, to Monument Circle on Thursday night to make a statement.
Joseph wore a sandwich board with a target and the words "Please Don't Shoot" on the front and on the back, in part, "I am not violent. I am black. I am human. I am smart but I am afraid."
They were part of a group of about 100 people who gathered in Downtown Indianapolis to silently demonstrate their solidarity with those in Ferguson, Mo., protesting police brutality.
The "National Moment of Silence 2014" was organized via social media as rallies and protests continued in the St. Louis suburb where a teenager was fatally shot last weekend by a police officer.
The Twitter hashtag for the Indianapolis event is #NMOS14#indy and organizers planned to tweet photos, including one of many of those gathered raising their hands, a sign to police that they are unarmed and not resisting.
As the mother of a young black boy, Pettiford said, she lives with concern for her son's safety.
"He could just be walking down the street in 10 years, minding his own business, matching the description of someone who did do something wrong, and all of a sudden it's 'Stop! Put your hands in the air!'," she said. "And with his autism, he might get scared and run.
"It's a constant worry."
Other Indiana cities, including Bloomington, also planned rallies.
Before a one-minute moment of silence at 7:20 p.m., Januarie York, 35, Indianapolis, recited a poem she wrote after seeing a photo of the father of Trayvon Martin holding his then-infant son in his arms. As a 17-year-old, Martin was shot to death by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida in 2012.
The image, York said, gave rise to her poem, which dramatized the perils of some babies destined to be slaughtered, as lambs, before they can grow up.
Thursday's rallies spooled out after a police officer, still unidentified, fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was walking to his grandmother's home Saturday afternoon with a friend.
Authorities have said the officer was assaulted by Brown and pushed into his squad car, where a scuffle over his gun resulted in a gunshot. They emerged from the car and the officer fired several shots, killing Brown.
But a friend of Brown's told a television station that a white officer shot Brown "like an animal" in the head and chest as the teen put his hands in the air.
The St. Louis suburb has been wracked by five days of civil unrest since the shooting.
Call Star reporter Diana Penner at (317) 444-6249. Follow her on Twitter: @dianapenner.