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Social Media And The Ferguson Movement

The Search For Justice On Social Media


It’s astonishing how time has moved on so quickly. Not too long ago, civil rights organisers used bullhorns to gather up groups of freedom fighters, but in the year 2014, hashtags rule all, and have more impact than most forms of physical activism. Social media has become the weapon of choice for disgruntled sections of society, and the Ferguson debacle is no exception.

social media ferguson
Source: hipgenius.com

The events in Ferguson are not new to the eye. It is not new that a black person has been shot by the police in uncertain circumstances, but the way in which the news is spreading is an interesting development. The protests are rising organically, and virally all over a nation through social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter. It is a frightening and alarming prospect, that people can collectively organise protests on such a mass scale purely through the internet, but on this occasion, they have every right to be riled.

“Social media now is kind of our generation’s way of talking to each other,” declared civil rights activist Zakkiyya Anderson. “We don’t do as much grassroots stuff; we kind of blend it all together … the hashtag of something like #shutitdownatl. You can see it on your timeline; you can follow it; you can figure out what’s going on.”

The Ferguson campaigners have taken heart from the occupy movement, who as well as claiming physical space as their own, also claimed the virtual space. The occupy movement was also very active in Atlanta, and maybe some of those people are now turning their attention to the shooting of young Michael Brown. It is fitting that the leaders of the occupy movement are helping those close to Michael Brown, who feel that justice is still a million miles away, and this is reminiscent of the group Anonymous helping the Egyptian people getting back online after the government tried to block the tool.

“You can get fired up on social media, then kind of reenact that fire and that passion and put your feet on the pavement, so to speak, once you come off social media and do actual work in the streets,” Anderson said.

Zakkiyya Anderson is part of the group called It’s bigger than you Atlanta, and by partnering with other groups, they have been able to create a call for protest across many social media platforms. This has worked wonders so far on a medium scale, but there are worries facing the group. Senior members are concerned that it will be too much to maintain such a youthful, motivated energy when it comes to fighting bigger issues that the country faces.


social media ferguson
Source: mashable.com

“What will we do about the militarisation of the police?” asked state Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta. “Will we adopt body cameras voluntarily or mandate them? Those are the kind of issues that a sustained movement can deal with.”

After the decision that no punishment will be dished out to the officer who shot down Michael Brown, the streets have been claimed by the people of Ferguson, and unfortunately violence has erupted. It is terrible that it has come to that, and people’s businesses are being burnt to the ground due to uncontrollable fits of rage by some protestors, but who is to blame for that?

Of course, it is difficult to condone such violence in the aftermath of a so-called unbiased decision made in a democratic court of law, but these people are ultimately being failed from the top down. President Obama is patronising them, by asking them to ‘accept the decision.’ The police are failing them by using deal violence on the streets, and after all, the police and citizens should be allies on the streets.

The unrest will continue over the next few days, and no winners will emerge. The United States of America’s justice system has been exposed, and the wound is too deep to keep a calm head when approaching the situation. These are dark times for the western world, as it would appear that it’s most powerful nation has just announced that it is OK for its police to kill.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Social Media And The Ferguson Movement Reviewed by Alex Smith on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 Rating: 5
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