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Social media stoking Ferguson protest movement | News

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Social media stoking Ferguson protest movement

ATLANTA -- In the old days, civil rights organizers used bullhorns to marshal the troops. But today it's the power of the hash tag. Social media has become the dominant force of dissent.

The civil rights issues in Ferguson, Missouri are not new. And neither are the protests. But what is new is the way they're developing: organically, virally, and simultaneously all over the country through Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter.

"Social media now is kind of our generation's way of talking to each other," said civil rights activist Zakkiyya Anderson. "We don't do as much grassroots stuff; we kind of blend it all together… the hash tag of something like #shutitdownatl. You can see it on your timeline; you can follow it; you can figure out what's going on."

The use of social media is one of the legacies of the occupy movement, which was very active here in Atlanta. Indeed, some of those organizers have had a hand in teaching the new organizers of the Ferguson movement.


"You can get fired up on social media, then kind of reenact that fire and that passion and put your feet to the pavement, so to speak, once you come off social media and do actual work in the streets," said Anderson.

She is with the group "It's bigger than you Atlanta." By partnering with other groups, they create a synergy of protest across multiple social media platforms. But the issue for veterans of the civil rights movement is how to sustain all that youthful energy to deal with the bigger issues facing the country.

"What will we do about the militarization of the police?" asked state Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta. "Will we adopt body cameras voluntarily or mandate them? Those are the kind of issues that a sustained movement can deal with."

Several groups in Atlanta planning to rally or protest after the Ferguson decision is handed down.

Many will gather at Five Points MARTA and the Underground, while others will meet at the Russell Federal Building. And as usual, all locations will be announced on social media.