Over the past two days I’ve closely followed the civil unrest in the small enclave of Ferguson, Missouri, a small suburb outside of St. Louis. A Ferguson police officer shot and killed a young African American male after some type of street confrontation. The details of exactly what happened will take some time to sort out. But, the citizens of Ferguson erupted. Looking at the images posted by the media and public, one can’t help but be reminded of pictures from the 1960’s civil rights riots. (Note the number of smartphones recording this interaction)
While the law enforcement officers of today appear to be showing much more restraint, the obvious comparisons are blowing up social media. So much so, the FBI and Justice Department are now looking into the actions of the officer involved in the shooting, and the overall operations of the department.
Initial tweets from enraged citizens called out the media and others, imploring them to pay attention to what was happening in Ferguson. Soon, the infamous internet hacker group Anonymous joined the fray;
Looks like it worked. Even the President weighed in today
Meanwhile, the City of Ferguson has been almost completely silent on social media channels, while the rest of the nation (and world) wonder what the hell happened. Ferguson has a Twitter account, and these are their only public tweets about the situation…3….days….apart;
The power of social media engagement is not lost on the regional media, who noted;
Today, one of my #SMEM colleagues, Patrice Cloutier retweeted a fellow #SMEM disciple- Tim Burrow’s comment about lack of engagement by the city, and a link to how other law enforcement agencies successfully engage with their community on social media;
“Dear City of #Ferguson officials… http://t.co/eqs3wjlnRx You have a serious communications problem right now. #police #smem #lesm”
I agree Tim;
Early in this event I tried to pull up the city’s website….nada…. I’m guessing it was overwhelmed with traffic. When I did pull it up, here is all I found related to their crisis;
Yet another community’s elected and appointed officials feel the wrath of not engaging their community BEFORE, DURING and AFTER a crisis hits. I suspect when the dust settles, this lack of engagement over the past few days will reveal a much deeper problem between the city and its citizens. I hope I’m wrong.