Social Media Helps New Haven Rally for Trayvon Martin

Since Trayvon Martin’s murder on February 26th, an intense social media campaign over racial injustice, gun laws, and vigilantism has taken the internet by storm.  The African-American 17 year old was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, captain of Martin’s gated community neighborhood watch. Zimmerman thought the hoodie-wearing teenager looked suspicious and claims he acted in self-defense. In fact, Martin was only holding a can of iced tea and had a bag of Skittles candy in his pockets. Zimmerman has not been arrested.

Martin’s name has been mentioned in tweets over 600,000 times and many Facebook statuses with messages such as “I am Trayvon Martin” or “I am wearing a hood-Do I look suspicious?” have been posted in outrage. Also, an online petition started by Martin’s parents has already received over 1.2 million signatures.  The national media campaign sparked by the tragedy has become even more intriguing because of the fact that it has led to a lot of local community efforts to fight racial profiling.

A great example of this effort can be found right in New Haven. The Connecticut African American Emancipation Committee [CAAEC], the Yale NAACP, My Brother’s Keeper (a grassroots social justice group in New Haven), and the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY) have partnered together to organize an event called “Hoodies Up New Haven,” a march in support of Alvin Penn Act, the recently introduced racial profiling measure in the Connecticut legislature that requires the police to collect data from traffic stops and report them to the state.

What is even more interesting is the way the old media and the new media are effectively helping to promote the March 31st community event. The Yale Black Student Alliance is using both a Facebook and Twitter to help promote the event.

According to BSAY President Joshua Penny,

“The thing with Trayvon Martin is that this is particularly relevant to young                          people and we’re trying to reach them through the mediums that young                               people use. We know that if we want New Haven high school-ers to come out, we               have to put this up on Facebook. To help reach an older demographic, the event                   will also be covered by Fox Hartford, who actually tweeted us to let us know that               they would be in attendance.”

Some argue that this individual rally may not garner as much attention as the national Trayvon Martian media campaign has as a whole. However, what is so amazing is that while this is a local effort, social media enables the New Haven community to have the potential to reach many other people. Social media has been key to making this tragedy a national event. The response to the national attention has also given the Travyon Martin case a local presence in New Haven.

This is because the internet is a world-wide space that every outlet from the local media to the national media can use. A friend in Olympia Fields, Illinois could see the Hoodies Up New Haven event on Facebook and be inspired to do something similar. Though the reach of these New Haven groups’ efforts may initially noticed by a smaller group of people, and having a presence on the internet in general still gives New Haven efforts the capacity to reach people all over the world.

Do I Look Suspicious?



About Dilan

Dilan is a junior in Davenport College double majoring in Political Science and African Studies.
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3 Responses to Social Media Helps New Haven Rally for Trayvon Martin

  1. Sam says:

    Dilan I think you raise a great point about the potential for social media in a case like this and it is undoubtedly a benefit to our society, yet there may be accompanying detriments. What George Zimmerman did was completely wrong and he should be prosecuted. Social media has helped this event gain national attention but it has also excited many people to want action immediately instead of letting the judicial process run its course. For example, the Black Panther party has put out a 10,000 dollar bounty for Zimmerman. Florida Governor Rick Scott says that they “compound tragedy with tragedy.” So while social media benefits our society by bringing important issues to national attention it can also cause us to become frustrated when we realize the impossibility of instant gratification.

  2. Dilan says:

    Forgive me, what I was trying to say was that although the effort is locally based, the New Haven Rally is still using the exact same social media platforms that the national media uses—So it while it has the potential to reach a greater amount of people, it’s greatest impact will probably be in New Haven

  3. Nick Defiesta says:

    I’m a little confused about what you’re trying to say here. You say that the great thing about social media is that it can be used to propel small events into the national spotlight: I definitely agree with that. But you also bring up the argument that New Haven’s efforts may not receive the attention as the entire media campaign, which doesn’t quite seem to support your point. In this case, social media seems to be a great tool for hyperlocal communication — organizing a local campaign around a national cause — but doesn’t really seem to be attracting curious eyes from anywhere outside of Connecticut.

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