In the days following the controversial verdict in the trial of the murder of 17-year old Trayvon Martin, millions of Americans have taken to social media to demand someone do something about injustice in America.
Many tweets and Facebook statuses regarding the verdict– typically retweeted and shared, respectively– called for riots, protests, and the immediate conviction of George Zimmerman. In addition to showing little understanding of the American legal system, angered patrons expressed that “enough is enough” and that someone needs to organize some kind of response to the government, or law firm, or whoever is responsible for what happened. When asked why many hadn’t done anything on their own, a number of people stated they didn’t know how to get started, didn’t have enough time, hadn’t really followed the case that well or that “their irate social media messages should be enough.”
Abby Giroux, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in Otiose studies, was particularly vocal about the trial on Twitter. She called the verdict a “totall [sic] travesty… like how can u even mess that up!! We live in such a racist country. WE NEED TO RIOT!!” She followed up with a number of retweets from other fellow outraged Tweeters and a few quotes from celebrities regarding race in America. “I really hope this injustice doesn’t go by without consequences,” she stated in a Facebook status. “Somebody needs to do something. If I wasn’t so busy with work and fraternizing, I would be in the streets protesting every night! #JusticeForTrayvon”.
Others have taken action into their own hands. Shawn Williams, a line cook at Stoney River Restaurant, has used his statuses as a place for, what he calls, “open reflection and true discussion of race relations in America.” He usually attaches an open-ended question to the end of every status so as to entice his 2,143 friends to leave comments with their thoughts. “It’s really all about making people’s voices and opinions heard,” said Williams via email. The only rule Williams asks his Facebook friends to follow is that commenters only be people of color because “white folks just don’t get it, you know?” When asked if that policy hinders true, open discussion, Williams said, “Absolutely not. It’s just so we can come together and talk without the pressure or judgment. Maybe we can figure out how we can figure out how to make this country less segregated and more united.”
As the emotional charge of the nation begins to dwindle, the question of whether or not anyone will actually take action is still up in the air. The White House issued a simple, five-word announcement to those who were upset with the verdict that simply read, “Chill out; we’ve got this.” When asked for a comment, White House spokesman Jay Carney responded that the executive branch was too involved with the farm bill, the political situation in Egypt, and the other myriad issues that people seem to have either forgotten about or merely overlooked. “They’ve had such a one track mind with the results of this trial, it’s been easy to pretty much get whatever we want to get whatever we need to get done, done,” Carney responded.
At the time this article was published, 91% of responders had stopped talking about the trial on social media altogether, and had refocused their attention on the season premiere of ‘Suits’.