Well, this is a little bit haunting. As New York Magazine details, it's possible that the Michael Brown shooting was live-tweeted. The 18-year-old Brown, whose death has sparked protests in Ferguson, Missouri and beyond, was shot dead by officer Darren Wilson Saturday morning. And as demonstrated by Rolling Stone reporter Tim Dickinson, a Twitter user named @TheePharoah may have seen it go down. If that's true — and obviously, this is all still in the realm of allegation, and part of a ongoing story — it could be seriously huge news.
That's because the stream of tweets details not just the sight of a dead body, but describes events leading up to the shooting. In effect, if his account is accurate, he's an eyewitness to the incident, along with Brown's friend Dorian Johnson, who has spoken out publicly about the shooting. Bustle was unable to reach the Ferguson Police Department for comment.
It's potentially yet another example of how the shooting and its aftermath has been impacted by the presence of social media — though nobody else has presented a possible eyewitness account, the rise of hashtags like #Ferguson and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown have been absolutely vital in following the incident from the perspective of the city's population.
Thanks to Dickinson, who culled the relevant tweets, we can get an easy glimpse into @TheePharoah's timeline, and the harrowing sight he claimed to see.
He also tweeted out an image of a body prone on the ground with two police officers (apparently, though one is largely obscured) standing nearby. The positioning of the body and the clothing appears to perfectly match Brown's, as seen in other images of the scene. In the interests of good taste, I'm not posting it here, but behind this link to his original tweet. But be warned — it's just as upsetting as you'd expect it to be.
More tweets from @TheePharoah further fleshed out his alleged account of the events.
The massive amount of social media coming out of Ferguson has been driving the story on a moment-to-moment basis, and people all over the country and the world have taken notice — even residents of the war-torn Gaza Strip have tweeted on the #Ferguson hashtag, offering protesters advice on how to clean teargas out of their eyes.
While it's impossible to know for certain, the death of Michael Brown and subsequent unrest seems like a story which, in a world without social media both as a news source and an outlet for activism, might never have received the profile or attention it now has. However discouraging the images and videos of militarized police and a grieving community might be to witness, that it's being seen at all is cause for encouragement.
Image: Getty Images (2)