In the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict officer Daniel Panteleo for the death of Eric Garner, a new hashtag has been trending on Twitter: #CrimingWhileWhite.
Tech Times reports that following the announcement of the Grand Jury’s decision, some Twitter users started posting tweets with the hashtag, #ICantBreathe, calling attention to Eric Garner’s last words as officer Panteleo brought him down with a choke hold that had been banned from use by NYC police. Others began using the hashtag #ShutItDown, calling for protests at the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.
But perhaps the most powerful Twitter commentaries are coming from users who are pointing out how different the treatment whites receive than blacks at the hands of police. That is the basis for #CrimingWhileWhite. White Twitter users are tweeting the hashtag with confessions about criminal activity in their past, and how their encounters with police ended with results far different than those experienced by many people of color. Time says that the hashtag had been used over 225,000 times between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.
The Huffington Post reports that #CrimingWhileWhite was started by Jason Ross, who is a writer for The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. Ross sent out the following tweets, shortly after the Grand Jury decision came down:
It didn’t take long for others to start sharing their confessions.
Twitter user “Mrs. McSmartass” sums up the difference between the white and black experience with law enforcement in one tweet:
Black tweeters add #AliveWhileBlack to the conversation
As an addition to the white privilege reflected in the #CrimingWhileWhite tweets, some black Twitter users have introduced #AliveWhileBlack. The differences between the stories told by the two groups are amazing.
Of course, there are also those who just don’t get it at all.
Will Twitter help contribute to change in America, the way it did in Egypt, or will #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack soon be forgotten when the next trend comes along? It’s hard to say at this point, but, as singer/songwriter Sam Cooke sang over 40 years ago, “It’s been a long time coming, but I know one day, a change gonna come.”
All images: Screenshots via Twitter