Michael Brown's Death

Michael Brown's Death

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Updated Aug 15, 2014 at 02:52PM EDT by Brad.

Added Aug 11, 2014 at 01:06PM EDT by Molly Horan.

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Overview

Michael Brown’s Death refers to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an African American teenager from Ferguson, Missouri, by the officers of St. Louis Police Department during a physical altercation that allegedly took place on August 9th, 2014. The teenager’s death, which happened less than a month after the controversial death of Eric Garner, instantly prompted backlash in the social media against police brutality and racial profiling, similar to the large-scale protests that erupted in the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Background

On August 9th, 2014, Michael Brown,[1] an eighteen-year-old African American, was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was unarmed at the time of the shooting. On August 10th, Jon Belmar, the police chief for St. Louis County, gave a statement explaining Brown had been shot after he assaulted a police officer and attempted to gain control of officer’s gun.

Notable Developments

#MikeBrown

The hashtag #MikeBrown was introduced by Twitter user Twists_nd_turns[2] who listed it with a collection of names of young men killed by the police, including Trayvon Martin.



The hashtag and surrounding discussion was covered by many websites on August 10th, including Bustle[7] and Christian Science Monitor[8]. Within 48 hours the hashtag[3] was tweeted out over 130,000 times.

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown

On August 10th, Twitter user CJ_musick_lawya[5] introduced the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, which African American twitter users can use to post to pictures of themselves, one featuring a very positive, accomplished image and one that could be perceived as negative based on negative racial stereotypes.



The hashtag was meant to criticize a picture of Brown NBC News tweeted[6] earlier on August 10th, which seems to portray Brown negatively based on racial stereotypes.



CJ_musick_lawya’s original tweet gained over 1,000 retweets within 24 hours, and the hashtag[4] was retweeted out over 110,000 times.


Protests

On August 10th, crowd members participating in a day of vigils reportedly began looting businesses, vandalizing vehicles and antagonizing police officers. 150 riot officers were dispatched to the scene, using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. On August 12th, protesters congregated in Clayton, Missouri demanding the criminal prosecution of the officer who shot Brown. Police used tear gas on the crowd, claiming bottles had been thrown at officers. On August 13th, journalists Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of Washington Post were arrested while charging their phones at a McDonald’s restaurant. Later, Reilly claimed officers slammed his head into the glass and Lowery tweeted that he had been pushed into a soda machine.[18]



That evening, the @OccupyOakland Twitter feed posted a screenshot of tweets sent from Palestinian citizens provided tips on handling tear gas.



On August 14th, Redditor kevan submitted a photograph of police officers in Ferguson purportedly tear gassing press and dismantling their equipment to the /r/pics[17] subreddit (shown below). In the first six hours, the post garnered upwards of 5,500 votes (95% upvoted).



#OpFerguson

On August 10th, 2014, Anonymous [9] issued a press release via PasteBin[10] in a post titled “Anonymous Operation Ferguson – Press Release.” The release explains Anonymous was “outraged” by Brown’s death, and explained they would be taking action, explaining:’’



“Anonymous demands that the Congressional Representatives and Senators from Missouri introduce legislation entitled “Mike Brown’s Law” that will set strict national standards for police conduct in the USA. We further demand that this new law include specific language to grant the victims of police violence the same rights and prerogatives that are already enjoyed nationwide by the victims of other violent criminals. The Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution demands nothing less."


They went on to say that should any of those protesting Brown’s death be harmed by police, Anonymous would attack their computer systems and release the personal information of their officers. The same day the Twitter account OpFerguson[11] was created, within 24 hours it gained over 1,000 followers. Also that day the hashtag #OpFerguson was introduced, within 24 hours it has been tweeted out over 6,000 times. That night Ferguson’s town website was hacked[13] leading their mayor to have city employees’ personal information removed from several websites.

Officer’s Identity

On August 12th, @OpFergusion[14] tweeted that they were in the process of verifying the alleged identity of Brown’s murderer.



On August 13th, Mother Jones[15] published an email exchange with a member of Anonymous, who claimed the group was close to revealing the officer’s name and had a source “very close personally to the officer.” The same day, TheAnonMessage YouTube channel uploaded a purported recording of the St. Louis Police Department dispatch during Michael Brown’s shooting.



On August 14th, the @TheAnonMessage Twitter feed posted the name and Facebook profile of a man whom they claimed was the officer responsible for shooting Brown. That day, the St. Louis County PD Twitter feed replied to @TheAnonMessage, claiming the officer was not affiliated with St. Louis County or Ferguson. The tweet was subsequently deleted and the @TheAnonMessage feed was banned.



On the same day, the @OpFerguson[16] feed announced the name released did not match the one obtained from their own independent source.



On the morning of August 15th, Thomas Jackson, the chief of Ferguson Police Department, identified the officer who fatally shot Brown as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran cop without any history of disciplinary actions or complaints, in a press conference (shown below, left). Along with this revelation, the department also released security camera footage and photographs to show that Brown had been suspected of taking part in a convenience store robbery shortly before the shooting (shown below, right).



External References

[1]New York Times – Grief and Protests Follow Shooting of a Teenager

[2]Twitter – Twists_nd_turns

[3]Tospy – #mikebrown

[4]Tospy – #iftheygunnedmedown

[5]Twitter – CJ_musick_lawya

[6]Aljazeera – ‘If they gunned me down, what photo would you use?’

[6]Twitter – NBC News

[7]Bustle – UNARMED TEENAGER MIKE BROWN SHOT BY POLICE OFFICER

[8]Christian Science Monitor – Unarmed black teenager shot: Is #MikeBrown the next Trayvon Martin?

[9]The Daily Dot – Anonymous launches campaign against cops who shot unarmed Missouri teen

[10]Paste Bin – Anonymous Operation Ferguson – Press Release

[11]Twitter – OpFerguson

[12]Tospy – #OpFerguson

[13]Gawker- Anonymous Vows Action Over Shooting Death of Unarmed Teen

[14]Twitter – OpFerguson

[15]Mother Jones – Anonymous Op Ferguson Says It Will ID the Officer Who Killed Michael Brown":http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/anonymous-ferguson-police-killing-unarmed-michael-brown

[16]Twitter – OpFerguson

[17]Reddit – This needs attention

[18]Huffington Post – Huffington Post Reporter Arrested In Ferguson

[19]Twitter – @OccupyOakland

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