When I write about social media on here I focus on new apps or updates and changes to apps, but today I want to show that the platforms we use themselves can be tools of justice in many cases.
Let’s begin with #IStandWithAhmed, an online campaign started when a young boy named Abdul was arrested for a bringing a clock he had built by himself to school. Authorities suspected it was a bomb based on his religion, Islam and your name is Ahmed Mohammed? He was 14 years old at the time, living in Texas, USA.
The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed began, showing displeasure and disgust at the Science teacher who reported the incident to police, at police for actually siding with the teacher and taking Ahmed away in cuffs at his high school, and to the world at large for not changing their views on people from a Muslim background.
Twitter especially was more vocal, having influential people join in to express appreciation for Ahmed’s genius ways and he is one lucky fella having scored the following the same day he was arrested, including an invitation to the White House by then President Barack Obama:
Another example of the power of social media activism happened recently in Benin where the government decided to introduce a social media tax. Consumers decided to protest, using the the hash tag #TaxePasMesMo.
The final decision ended up being the cancellation of the social media tax in the country.
In Zambia, we want #JusticeForVespers, to seek out who was responsible for the death of UNZA student Vespers Shimuzhila as she lay asleep in her room on campus while other students rioted far away on the road passing the school, protesting against late payment of allowances. Why were the police near the hostels attacking students when they should have been at the roadside dealing with the rioting students? Which of them thought it was smart to throw a teargas canister into a room that ended up suffocating and killing Vespers, while her roommate Everntyn ended up jumping out the window and getting broken legs and an injured spine?
The movement wasn’t just online, students marched peacefully in protest against the unfortunate incident and it was heartbreaking to see.
It’s more than a hashtag, it’s a call for justice, an online protest against police brutality, a plea for the culprit to be arrested and charged, for closure.
Keep typing the hashtag, don’t let people call you a keyboard warrior to intimidate you. This is something you stand for so keep standing for it! Trust me, they see the tweets and posts. Keep her spirit alive.