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The Integral Importance of Social Media and the Zimmerman Protests in Baltimore

The use of social media to plan and create protests against the acquittal of Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.
The use of social media to plan and create protests against the acquittal of Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Bruce Emmerling

For weeks many have been following the Zimmerman case in Florida. Last night there was a verdict of not guilty, much to dismay of many observers. Almost instantly, the verdict’s news spread throughout the country and the world through social media sites. Many sites such as Twitter and Facebook had updates about the case and calls for protests beginning almost immediately after the verdict were announced. In Baltimore, the social media site Facebook was an integral resource for planning a protest action in the Inner Harbor.

A social media planned protest in Baltimore against the aqcuital of Zimmerman.
Bruce Emmerling

Over the past day thousands of voices arose through social media outlets such as Twitter. From celebrities to the father of Trayvon Martin, social media initially formed the basis of news about the Zimmerman Case. Later traditional media also revved up with reports and commentaries about the case. Then the messages calling for protests and marches spread through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.

Across the country countless protests were scheduled, planned, and executed using social media. Almost immediately protests began appearing across the country. Many protests were planned for Sunday. In Baltimore, two protests were planned for the city using Facebook and Twitter. Today the first protest occurred before 5 pm in McKeldin Square in the Inner Harbor. Hundreds showed up based on messages and invitations sent through Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, today’s even was almost entirely driven and planned through Facebook. Previously planned by the Peoples Power Assembly and the Baltimore Solidary Center, today’s event bloomed with hundreds showing up through online contacts, invitations, and Twitter reports. At least four major news stations sent reports along with a slew of other reporters and journalists. The protest was attended by many speakers, protestors holding signs, and a march to Baltimore city hall.

While the protest today in Baltimore was just a microcosm of many protests across the country, the event revealed how paramount and integral social media is in planning and enacting a protest. While many have been aware of social media’s impact on social protest movements, today’s event revealed now only the impact of spreading news of protests but also planning them. It also showed how important social media can be in bringing in the greater exposure of traditional media.

On Monday a larger protest is planned after 5pm in McKeldin Square. While this even will be promoted online through social media, it also is being widely promoted through news stories reach television news stations and newspapers.

For more information on the protest on Monday starting at 5pm, visit the Facebook Event Page.