In early 2010, Anastasio Hernández-Rojas was beaten and tasered by border patrol agents on the US Mexico border near San Diego, a beating that would lead to Anastasio’s death. Articles were written about the event, including one in the New York Times, and standbyers recorded video of the event and posted them to YouTube. Then suddenly, nothing happened.
On April 18, 2012, I noticed a petition being passed around via the #LATISM Twitter stream. The Presente.org petition had a video with snippets of citizen journalism video of the beating. I did a little digging then signed the petition and saw that the “tweet this” option included the following text:
Because the suggested tweet included the “#latism” tag, others who follow the Latinos in Social Media tag were able to pick up on what was going on. When I signed on April 18th the petition had received 11,000 signatures and two days later there were over 17,000 signatures.
One of the main drivers for this renewed focus on the beating and eventual death of Anastasio was the preview of the April 20, 2012 story that will appear on PBS. This segment has the potential to re-spark interest and attention on what happened.
The other thing that I noticed was that people started tweeting at other people. For example, instead of just tweeting out the message that was on the Presente.org site, people started tweeting the information to friends. I saw at least one person tweet at many other people including journalists and activists. I tweeted the link to a New York Times journalist who covered the initial story back in June of 2010 with hopes that he would either follow up on the story or contact someone at the Times who could.
This is the same kind of thing that happened in the Trayvon Martin case. When looking at the Change.org petition signups, you could see large bumps when influential people like Spike Lee started sharing information. Mashable has great post on this topic and shares an insightful infograph.
I was also curious about the other people tweeting out the Presente.org petition link so I reviewed a few dozen tweeters. The majority of those I reviewed were social justice and human rights activists so this is a powerful group that are likely to follow up, view the PBS segment on April 20, and continue to push the campaign forward.
Will there be justice for Anastasio? Will social media be a key rallying platform as it was with the Trayvon Martin case? What do you think?