More than two years after the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown, which led to widespread protests against police brutality across the U.S., many Twitter activists are shocked to discover that their hashtag campaigns have not eliminated incidents of police violence.
In 2016, 963 people were shot and killed by police officers, according to the Washington Post leading many hashtag activists, who have never physically joined a protest, organized meetings with their police precincts, or lobbied their local government officials, to wonder why.
Since 2014, when protests began, 24 states passed over 40 police laws due to the direct impact of physical protests across the country. Incidents of police violence, however, remained frequent, despite these laws, as many people ignored the root of the problem, which was a lack of “better education, employment and housing opportunities for residents,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union’s director of law reform Ezekiel Edwards.
While the number of killings by police officers slightly declined from the 991 reported incidents in 2015, many high-profile incidents in 2016 such as the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling have generated controversy and an influx hashtags.
Though hashtags #NoJusticeNoPeace and #StopTheViolence had been distributed widely across the internet, they have not inspired many people to actively seek out police reforms.
“I really thought that sharing posts about police statistics, the Huffington post and left-wing alternative media sites to all of my like-minded friends on Facebook would force change,” Tyler Whitey, a Twitter activist and sixth-year basket-weaving major stated. “I just really thought it would encourage and protest out there for me.”
Whitey has also made an effort to block anyone criticizing his Twitter activism or attempting to create a discussion on his page which offers an alternative perspective toward his views.
“Anyone who disagrees with me is a white-trash bigot and a racist, just like everyone who voted for Trump,” Whitey, who is Caucasian, explains. Regarding incidents of the Dallas police sniper killings Whitey stated “It’s important to not group the entire movement and claim that they are responsible for the actions of a few people.”
In regards to actually physically attending a protest or lobbying a congressman to try to influence police reform, Whitey stated “I would but I just have too much work, you know basket-weaving is a harder major than the patriarchy claims it is.”
When asked if he thinks protesters should hold meetings to discuss solutions with their police precincts to help reduce racial-profiling and violence through education, he replied;
“That sounds like too much work, hastagging is easier and I believe it should really inspire people to make the change I don’t have time to do. Hashtag fuck pigs and fuck this interview you fascist thug.”
Despite Whitey’s and many other Twitter activists constant campaigns to “stay woke,” by sharing articles and hashtags from misinformed “Alternative media websites,” results have not been successful, as 17 people have already been killed by police officers since the beginning of 2017, five days ago.