The recent Baltimore riots, resulting from the death of Freddy Gray, have played out not only on our TV screens but in our social media streams too. Social media has played a role like never before in the capture and documentation of what goes on from a local perspective, and the Baltimore riots are no exception.
Social Media Frontline
Some of the best unbiased real reports, pictures and video footage has come from people who live in the community. Just by walking around their local area they have been able to capture the kinds of footage that the mainstream news channels don’t show us.
All out war between kids and police pic.twitter.com/19y4YJ2Y5X
— Erica L. Green (@EricaLG) April 27, 2015
These Tweets from Erica Green @EricaLG have proven to be some of the best amatuer footage from the riots, with both perspectives being shown, one from the rioters, and another from the side of the police. Instead of driving her views onto us, we get to see the raw footage from inside the community.
Back up arrives. Moves down to Gwynns Fallsd pic.twitter.com/U8axOLzS8w
— Erica L. Green (@EricaLG) April 27, 2015
Social Media News
There have been lots of on the ground social media photos that have shown up. Paul Hunter who is a Journalist for CBC, has caught some amazing on the ground photos while he has been working in Baltimore covering the riots.
This photo was taken of a smashed ATM machine. Rioters obviously used some heavy equipment like crowbars or fences to wedge the covering of the machine off. This is handy to know if you stay close by and want to use this machine to make a cash withdrawal. Not a typical photo that would make the national press, but still a very important photo thanks to the use of social media and smartphones.
This photo shows the aftermath of a burnt out Pharmacy, and with a rioter climbing out the burnt out window, it also allows Police to identify people who took part in the riots much easier than they would normally be able to. Something that publicity seeking rioters have failed to grasp as they have taken part in the smashing of buildings, to the damaging of Police cars.
Social Media Publicity
Another way that social media has played a surprising role is with the promotion of those that are supporters of the some of the unheard victims of the riots. Joseph Kent was captured live on TV camera promoting peace with his hands up in the air, and yet from behind an armoured car was snatched by the Police and arrested. All caught live on camera, and tweeted by @BroderickGreer
— Broderick Greer (@BroderickGreer) April 29, 2015
The next part of the story unfolded by the use of the hashtag #JosephKent by an attorney, who was obviously representing him following his very public arrest. With the amount of retweets that this tweet from @BeattyLaw recieved, it was surely an excellent way to promote his services among an untapped potential audience.
Re: #JosephKent Mr. Kent has retained me as his attorney.I spoke with him for 20 minutes eye to eye.He is healthy and positive.More to come.
— The Big Acquittal (@BeattyLaw) April 29, 2015
A Branch of whole foods experienced an unexpected backlash from parents and residents in Baltimore after they posted on Facebook and Instagram that they were helping in the peaceful efforts by making sandwiches for the men and women of the National Guard. Many people took to twitter to voice their disapproval, that Whole Foods were doing this, while children who received subsidized school meals were going hungry due to the school cancellations. Whole Foods later retracted their posts.
Social Media Spoofs
Social media has been an incredible tool to stay in touch with what’s been happening on the ground in the Baltimore riots. But the riots have seen an upsurge in fake and imposter social media activity, with many accounts showing photos that have claimed to be the result of recent looting, but on closer examination are either stock photos, or photos from a completely different time.
The popular hashtag began trending on twitter, #baltimorelootcrew, which shows many photos of supposid looting, but look more closely and you’ll see a collection of either rehashed images, memes, or photoshopped ones. Very few of the photos are real Baltimore riot photos.
This photo showing a crew who have supposedly looted a number of stores, actually is from a gang group based in London who posted the photo in 2012. Its this kind of fake bravado behaviour that is helping fuel the real behaviour of others in the Baltimore riots.