What started out as a peaceful protest in Minneapolis by those seeking to condemn police brutality, demand justice, and honor the life of resident George Floyd – who was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin through use of excessive force – quickly escalated into rioting, which spread from city to city across the country this week. Black Lives Matter and now Antifa have both been linked to the riots seen in over 30 cities nationwide.
Each night we have witnessed the level of violence, assaults, arson, and destruction of property increase while Twitter has continued to allow communications between Antifa groups and their members to coordinate and plan their attacks.
On Sunday, after nearly a week of rioting, President Trump announced Antifa would be designated as a terrorist organization.
Entrepreneur and political activist Ali Alexander celebrated the president’s announcement tweeting, “This is one of the proudest days of my entire life. My friends and I have been fighting for 3 years to get #Antifa designated as a terrorist group by this admin. If you listened to my livestream last night, you got the scoop. I was fearful it might get vetoed again but we won!”
Shortly after the president’s declaration, the hashtag #IAmAntifa started to trend on Twitter by those who apparently self-identify as a domestic terrorist.
What’s more, multiple official Twitter accounts on the social media platform, along with the account for Twitter Support showed they’re more than willing to get behind the violent and deadly riots we’ve seen this week from coast to coast. Both @Twitter and @TwitterSupport changed their headline images to solid black, and added in #BlackLivesMatter to their account bios in solidarity.
The Vice President of Twitter Support, Donald Hicks tweeted on Saturday, “I lead the @TwitterSupport team. I am so proud to work at a company that stands behind #BlackLivesMatter! We are here to help, in any way we can. Please don’t hesitate to reach out during this time if you need help or support. I’m here.”
Black Lives Matter gained momentum after a string of shootings involving white officers and unarmed black men saturated the Mainstream Media in the early to mid-2010s.
The official Twitter account also retweeted a post from account “Twitter Together” that claims “the long-standing racism and injustices faced by Black and Brown people on a daily basis” take precedence over the threat of being infected by COVID-19, and that “racism does not adhere to social distancing.”
The link included in the Twitter Together bio opens up to a career page and includes an interesting video. In the 54 second clip it tells the viewer that an ally is not just a noun but also a verb, and that “being an ally starts with understanding that privilege?, bias?, We’ve all got it.”
The video clip continues, “It’s standing side by side with people who don’t look, speak or believe like you do. It’s learning people’s pronouns and how to say their names.”
Other speakers in the clip say, “If I’m an ally I’m not a member of the group but I always have their back,” and “I’m not an expert but I want to learn,” with another saying, “I’m tired of talking about the problem, I want to help fix it.”
The clip concludes with: “Ask yourself, what are you willing to risk? Don’t wait until you have a daughter to advocate for women. Listen, but also know when to speak up. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable because you will make mistakes. But don’t stop showing up. Let’s build our differences together. @TwitterTogether #UntilWeAllBelong”
One tweet on the Twitter Together timeline links to a Twitter-based list named Diversify Your Feed that features different accounts that are “amplifying voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups.” Like other lists on Twitter, this will condense members you select onto a separate timeline feed that you can access in the LISTS section of a Twitter account.
The list is currently comprised of 78 accounts including Black Women Radicals, and verified accounts like HuffPost Asian Voices, Minnesota Freedom Fund, UK BLACK PRIDE, The Marshall Project, and Black Lives Matter. As of the writing of this report, 580 accounts on Twitter have followed the Diversify Your Feed list.
Perhaps some of the more interesting members on the list include White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, who has heckled President Trump at every opportunity during recent press conferences concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also appearing on the list is MSNBC corespondent Joy Reid, who claimed that the riots that we’ve been seeing this week “ain’t a riot.” Reid also added in the MSNBC clip below, “What we’re seeing in Minneapolis, that right there is frustration and anger and rage and an uprising.”
In a recent Periscope by Ali Alexander, he breaks down key differences between protestors, rioters, and looters.
The official Twitter account for Black Lives Matter retweeted a post from Black Unitarian Universalists that called for everyone to bring their rage to the protests, adding that protesting “takes many forms”.
Saturday, Trump explained how the situation has crossed a line, from peaceful protesting to rioting and looting. “We support the right of peaceful protestors, and we hear their pleas. But what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or peace.”
Tweets on the Twitter Together timeline also call for accounts to “address anti-Black and Brown sentiments” and to “discuss the violence and injustice that Black and Brown communities face.”
For those concerned with catching COVID-19, Twitter Together has a solution: just keep pushing your rage online. “While social distancing, it may seem difficult to show up physically for your colleagues or community members. Try doing it virtually Engage with Tweets amplifying Black and Brown voices and experiences.”
Twitter Together also promoted co-creator of Black Lives Matter Alicia Garza’s thread on what to do in a country “that allows black people to be hunted and killed like animals.”
Another tweet says recent high profile killings “doesn’t compare to what Black and Brown people face every day.”
“The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd, and the victimization of Christian Cooper has left many of us angry, and with a deep sense of grief, but it doesn’t compare to what Black and Brown people face every day. #SayTheirNames“
A few Twitter users called the social media platform out on their politicization and taking advantage of not only the murder of George Floyd, but also the timing of Twitter’s posts.
One Twitter user, (kraftyTL) said, “Yeah have you ever looked at the white people who die at the hands of police? Do we not matter? Yeah white people die at the hands of police than black or Brown people. Is just you all trying to politicize at.” Another Twitter user (@Brandon_Hubbard) added, “Twitter is a very liberal California company that’s trying to cash in on the current climate. Additionally, it’s an election year.”
Yet another verified account named “Twitter Blackbirds” appeared on the Twitter Together timeline whose bio reads, “This is the official account for the #Blackbirds employee resource group @ Twitter. We’re here to celebrate and encourage diverse perspectives.”
Though most of the tweets from this account appear to be based around polls of popular songs and group movie nights, starting the day that George Floyd lost his life, posts began to shift focus on #BlackLivesMatter based material and accounts.
“Proud to be a Black leader at a company that is standing in solidarity with my community as we continue the fight of our lives for justice and equality. We may not be perfect, and we are still evolving; but right now, today; we are here & we are taking a stand & I am SO proud,” tweeted Global Director of Culture & Community @GodisRivera on Saturday, who often retweets Twitter Blackbirds posts and vice versa.
Calling the riots across the country an “uprising” @GodisRivera posted a tweet on Sunday stated voting is not enough to make changes to systematic issues. “It’s so tiring to keep hearing ‘be sure to vote in Nov’ in response to the uprising as if it will be the magic bullet to solving these deeply systemic issues. This system is working as it was designed & needs to be dismantled. We’ve been voting, & we keep seeing the same results.”
Another tweet posted by Twitter’s Global Director of Culture and Community reads, “Ah….yes. It absolutely is the system’s fault. We are literally STILL living under a separate and unequal education (& housing) system in this country brought upon by racism and a supremacist ruling class. Please do your research.”
The same director retweeted a list of bail funds and legal support by city posted by Backsliding Black Feminist to help anyone who was arrested during the riots.
In addition, a number of celebrities and politicians – including Joe Biden presidential campaign staffers have been collecting and donating money to bail out those arrested during the riots in Minneapolis, and riots around the country.
In addition to Twitter, several other streaming platforms including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Starz, HBO Max, and others have jumped on the bandwagon announcing their support for Black Lives Matter and the black community as a whole.
Quoting James Baldwin, HBO Max tweeted, “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.” – James Baldwin We stand with our Black colleagues, employees, fans, actors, storytellers — and all affected by senseless violence. #BlackLivesMatter“. HBO Max also changed their name to #BlackLivesMatter.
Viacom CBS and Warner Bros. made similar statements on their official Twitter accounts:
The changes made to the official Twitter and Twitter Support accounts came just after Twitter posted a warning tag on President Trump’s tweets Tuesday in which he warned about the dangers of mail-in ballots.
Then on Friday, Twitter censored yet another tweet from Trump where the social media platform claimed the president was “glorifying violence”. *SPOILER ALERT*: He wasn’t.
Just one day prior, President Trump signed a new executive order that would remove legal protections from all social media companies that continued to engage in online censorship.
Over the weekend Black Lives Matter-LA, called to defund police departments and said the “uprising” is more than just about George Floyd, further warning “we’re just getting started…stay tuned…”
Outspoken actor and patriot Isaiah Washington, called out Black Lives Matter for their lack of any actual action that has helped to empower the black community.
“#BlackLivesMatter has NEVER built a park; a charter school; a recreational center; a clinic; a hospital; a STEM center; a insurance company; a vegetable farm; a cattle ranch or changed one damn law to better Black People or the victims they claim they’re protesting for. Not one.”
It begs the question, is Black Lives Matter causing more division, separation, and inciting violence than the unification and equality the organization claims to be based upon and practice?
What do the riots mean for causes important to Black Lives Matter? Does what we see now with the rioting strengthen or weaken what Black Lives Matter seeks to achieve?
“#BlackLivesMatter only ‘matters’ when a cop kills a black person, but never loots or burn down businesses when black people kill black people? The entire movement has been compromised and hijacked by Liberal THUGS and are the Enemy of the People. Arrest, Indict and Convict NOW!,” Washington said in another tweet.
Political commentator and author Candace Owens asked what the $33 million donated to Black Lives Matter from the Ferguson Protest Movement’s main donor George Soros‘, Open Society Foundations and Media Matters was used for. The list of donors propping up Black Lives Matters is extensive.
As riots are expected in cities across the nation for yet another night, Twitter is adding fuel to the fire. Does this not seem like glorification of violence? Not only are they publicly aligning themselves with organizations who have either publicly taken responsibility for the violence seen across the country or by way of spray-painted tags plastered all over public property, but Twitter also continues to allow the use of their platform by these organizations to make and direct plans at each location.
It seems that Twitter’s own rules against “hateful conduct” and glorification of violence do not apply to them. More “rules for thee, but not for me.”
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