I had ideas for umpteen blogs. Here is where they all somehow converge and I attempt to do something productive with my sprawling web presence.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Hate crime solved with the help of Twitter and Facebook users
The perpetrators of a violent Philadelphia hate crime were tracked down via Twitter and Facebook, after photos and surveillance video of the suspects had been released, reported NBC Philadelphia, Sept. 17. Police were getting bombarded with communications regarding the suspects’ identities. Many tips were being passed along through social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The release of the video and photos had aired the same day that a 10,000 dollar reward from a local restaurant had been offered to track down the suspects of the violent, and as BoingBoing reported, “savage” attack of a gay couple.
Reports state that the couple was beaten after being asked about their sexual orientation by some in a gang of 10-15 twenty-somethings. After the couple told the mob they were homosexual, men and women in the group proceeded to shout out lewd and degrading comments and to punch the couple, holding them down so they could not escape. The couple suffered blows to the head, face and body.
The members of this group who committed said hate crime were described as “clean-cut, well-dressed” and “preppy-looking.” Someone from the group stole one of the victim’s bags which contained his wallet and cellphone.
When police arrived on the scene, the whole group took off running. After the event, police posted the security video of the incident on YouTube which was quickly picked up by a Twitter user named Greg Bennett. Bennett posted the video in his feed and then was later sent a photograph which he also posted. The photograph had come from an anonymous “friend of a friend of a friend,” who had responded to his video post.
There were hundreds of retweets as a result of Bennett’s posts. It seemed that the details were all in the clothes the people in the photograph were wearing. The surveillance video may have been fuzzy or grainy but the similarities were too many for them to be coincidences alone.
Within mere hours, the restaurant in the photograph had been identified by another Twitter user and then through Facebook’s advanced searches, Bennett checked to see if there were any check-ins to the restaurant. There were! There was also a lot of hate speech on some of those pages in regards to homosexuality.
Many of the suspects in question have been interrogated by police but none have been arrested, let alone charged. The suspects are reported to have found or are hiring lawyers.
Greg Bennett is not totally sure if his action and the action of others on social media has indeed solved the crime. He has, however, received credit for the deed from his local authorities.
On Sept. 17, Bennett posted on his Twitter a note of thanks that also related his hope that the restaurant offering the reward “donate it to the victims for their medical bills.” Others continued sending comments of support and even suggested that someone start a crowdfund for the victims. “There are plenty of people who would donate,” wrote @ENAYALINC. “You guys are new-age heroes,” wrote @jscheringer.
*originally published on the now defunct Examiner.com