I have been following the #BlackLivesMatter activist movement since its inception, after George Zimmerman’s acquittal of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Like many people, I was astonished and appalled.
The movement was born as an online campaign as the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. The goal being to bring attention that black lives matter also, not to say that other live’s don’t, but that the killings of unarmed African American’s and their devaluation in our society is not acceptable.
Black Lives Matter has been mobilized and using direct action here in Minnesota. Social media has been the key factor in organizing.
During the civil rights movement of the 60’s, many different channels and a profound infrastructure had to be used to get the word out or shared to the masses about a situation, occurrence, or knowledge of future actions that would be taking place.
Today, social media is being used to live steam and share what is going on in live time. Black Lives Matter has been using these tools to to spread their message, gain supporters for the cause, and also used to gather up supporters to take direct action and hit the streets in protest at a moments notice. A new era of the civil rights movement has begun.
November 15th, 2015, Jamar Clark, an unarmed African American, was killed by Minneapolis police officers and witnesses claim he was handcuffed and killed in cold blood.
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, took immediate action. Immediate active protests had begun, and they used their Facebook and Twitter pages to share in live time what their actions were going to be, what was needed, and their demands. The 4th precinct shutdown had started.
I had been actively following what was going on from their Facebook page and was actively commenting, sharing, and liking the posts. I wanted to be there to demand justice for Jamar Clark.
Many of my friends are activists and we have the same mind set, we will fight for our civil rights and the stoppage of oppression and brutality against people of color and all other disenfranchised peoples.
On November, 20th, I attended a presentation at the East Side Enterprise Center, the nonprofit my group is working with. Salvador Miranda, of the nonprofit Voices for Racial Justice was speaking about equity for minorities and immigrants. I was already fired up about what had been going on in my city, with what happened to Jamar and all the protests, now I could feel my blood pumping through my veins.
I had been wanting to go down to the 4th precinct shutdown, but I work so much and got classes and couldn’t make it happen. The presentation was on a Friday night. After it was done, I got on Facebook and looked at the Black Lives Matter page to see what was needed at the protest. People, food and water. I picked up four cases of water and headed down.
What I found was hundreds of people united to fight for justice for Jamar Clark and justice period. Justice against a system that systematically has to change for real social justice and equal civil rights to exist. People of all races and backgrounds causing a disruption so loud that it made international news and made those with the privilege feel very uncomfortable.
The comments on social media from the general public were (still are) full of hate speech and comments like, “he got what he deserved”, “He’s a thug”, “plow down the rioters” and much worse. Iv’ed used my Facebook page and my posts on social justice to weed out “friends” and their racist hidden reality.
The protesters have since been removed, but the fight is still on and this is only the beginning. Black Lives Matter has used social media very successfully to organize, gain supporters for their cause, and make the United States take a closer look at itself and all the disparities among its citizens.