In recent years, social media has become a popular medium for news to spread. There has been a large number of posted stories and videos of various violent situations between White police officers and African American citizens. Shootings have occurred during some of these altercations, outraging the victims' families as well as Americans across the country. For example, "The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray are -some claim- evidence of long-standing problems with the police racism and excessive violence" (source). Viral videos have become a major part of the exposure of these stories to the public. Recently, while looking on Facebook I came across a link to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjSY0EoWSVc which shows a young African American boy being arrested for supposedly jay walking and disregarding the police's orders. Throughout the video a woman shouts 'he's just a kid' repeatedly. Eventually, nine police officers enter the scope of the video as they arrest him and put him in the back of a police car. This was just one example, as more of these videos have begun to surface (link to a list of videos).
The most recent incident occurred this week in a South Carolina high school, Spring Valley High, when Ben Fields, a sheriff's deputy named cop of the year and an assistant coach at the high school who has had previous violations regarding citizen's free speech and excessive force, flipped an African American girl out of her desk and arrested her. It was reported that she was using her phone, was asked to put it away several times, called into the office, and refused to move or leave the room; leading the administration to involve Officer Fields. In the video, the girl hits the officer with her fist but was reported to not have any weapon nor threatened his life. He continues to flip her and arrests her on the ground in the front of the class. The FBI and Department of Justice are getting involved and Fields has been suspended without pay. Field's Sheriff, Leon Lott, disregarded the matter of race and stated that Fields has an African American girlfriend (source). However, many are still suspicious of Fields' motives. The girl who was flipped has been arrested as well as her classmate, Niya Kenny, who tried to "stand up" to the officer, cursing at him as he arrested the girl (source). New York Magazine called it "the latest in a depressing series of filmed violent encounters between cops and black teens" (source). There is even a hash tag trending titled "#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh" (hashtag). Three different videos of this incident have surfaced on social media, expanding its audience across social media platforms. This large audience creates a strong debate setting in the comment sections of the videos. Some have argued that police should take any measures necessary in order to arrest (source) while others believe he did not have a strong enough incentive to use such force (source). What do you think?
>Do you think that social media is a positive reinforcement to spreading news stories across America?
>Some have argued that the media ignores cases where there are altercations between African American cops and white citizens. Has social media created a focus on cases with white cops and African American cops?
>Does the media ignore the special circumstances of each case and generalize? Or do they generalize because each case has created a similar outcome?
>How effective is social media vs specialized news outlets in providing the full story?
Right: Still from one of the viral videos posted online