Groups using social media to organize chaos
Despite national media attention, threats to riot and loot made by Trayvon Martin supporters if George Zimmerman is found innocent continue to dominate Twitter.
A search of Twitter over the last 24 hours for the words “riot Zimmerman” brings up a plethora of tweets from individuals who are openly signaling their intention to stage disorder in cities across America if Zimmerman walks free.
The messages are clearly illegal under 18 USCS § 2102 which states that “to incite a riot”, or “to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot”, includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts.”
Not only have social media users threatened to cause chaos and unrest on American streets in response to a “not guilty” verdict, they are also advocating that George Zimmerman be murdered if he walks.
Facebook initially refused to remove pages such as “Riot for Trayvon” and “Kill Zimmerman,” and only scrubbed them after sustained media pressure last week.
Compare the lack of action on behalf of authorities in response to the threats to riot and loot if Zimmerman is acquitted to the treatment of 19-year-old Justin Carter, who has been locked up since March for Facebook comments in which he made a violent joke with his friend. Whereas Carter made his remarks in jest, no matter how distasteful, the vast majority of people advocating riots and theft in response to a Zimmerman acquittal are deadly serious.
With legal experts now forecasting that Zimmerman will not be convicted with either murder or manslaughter in a verdict that could arrive before the end of the week, preparations on behalf of authorities in Sanford, Florida are also intensifying.
As we reported last week, Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith and other city officials are worried that the outcome of the trial could spark “violence” and have crafted a “secret law enforcement” plan to deal with potential social disorder.
Numerous prominent voices, including former Chicago cop Paul Huebl have also warned that the outcome of the trial will lead to riots that could surpass those seen in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating.
Dismissing the Twitter threats as holding no weight would be naive given the fact that Trayvon Martin supporters looted a Walgreens last year as part of a “demonstration” against the fact that Zimmerman had not been arrested. Video surveillance footage showed teens ransacking a store in North Miami, damaging property and shoplifting goods.
View a selection of tweets below that were made over the last 24 hours alone.
– Zimmerman you are not guilty ! There should b a riot if these words are spoken cause I need a couple things from the store !
If George Zimmerman gets off we about to riot.
— ?E??¥ (@trap_sultan) July 8, 2013
“@AskYOmama__: If Zimmerman walks there will be serious problems in America” I will go join the riot.