Watch how the twitter conversation of #Ferguson spread across America by @DrCrypt via @FastCoDesign

Watch How The Twitter Conversation Of #Ferguson Spread Across America

It almost looks like a nuclear war played out on the Internet.

Since unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was brutally gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson* in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, #ferguson has become a Twitter hashtag used around the world to protest the militarization of American police departments and comment upon the still very real problem of racism in America.

To show how the #ferguson story went around the world, Twitter compiled every geotagged tweet that mentioned Ferguson and compiled them into a single map. What starts out as a relatively localized heatmap centered in Missouri and various other pockets of America escalated over the course of three days to what, in a very different context, might be interpreted as an animation of a global thermonuclear war after Ferguson police officers began tear-gassing and firing rubber bullets at peaceful protesters in the aftermath of the shooting.

Particularly interesting from a national perspective is how the story exploded on August 13, after Ferguson Police arrested the Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly and the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery for not leaving a McDonald's quickly enough. From there, the Twitterverse lights up like a Christmas tree, where as previously much of the commentary was happening only in major metropolitan centers, like Chicago, Washington, and New York.

When will the Ferguson story end? It's probably too much to hope that it ends with the demilitarization of police departments and a lessening of the endemic racism that seethes underneath the surface of modern American life almost 50 years after the African-American Civil Rights Movement. But hopefully, at the very least, it will end with justice in the murder of Michael Brown being done.

*An earlier version of this article misstated that the officer had not been named. We regret the error.

[H/T City Lab]

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  • Ward Randolf Kendall

    There was no "brutal killing" of that negro thug. That's description comes straight from the mouth of a lying liberal dirt-bag journalist. And since he refused to be neutral in his report, neither I nor anyone else need be as well. In all truth, not enough of these negro thugs are being cut down by this righteous .45 caliber justice. Even so, more is sure to come as white Americans begin to wake up to the fact that their country is now being occupied by enemy aliens of the brown and black persuasion. And, as with our first American revolution, we are now long overdue for a second one.


    And load.

  • What happen in Ferguson is bad for the Community as it shows lots of racial tension among the black people, there are different things said he done and what he had not done, even he did rush the police and then put his hands up, why did the Police shot him six times, one, why did the police called for backup before he done that fateful deed of killing him, pumping six bullets into his body, I call that over kill. Racist is definite in that town of Ferguson and all over America. Why use brutal force on a black man, do they use taser, this has spread all over the world and lot of people has different opinion on this killing and many other killing in different States of America, work and schooling is hard to find in America, The hatred still exist for our Black American. Too many brutal force against the blacks. they could have talked him down, not to shoot him.I know lots of blacks cannot forgot the days of slavery or the KKK clan,. Racism still exist. I am not racist.

  • C.j. Pouliot

    Extremely biased reporting. I thought it incomprehensible and even sad, that so many individuals in Ferguson were incapable of critical thought..... VERY sad that our own media reporters and outlets in this country are just as incapable. Someone forgot to do their research for this piece. This article is actually an insult to those who truly did fight for civil rights. John Brownlee, what are the protesters in Ferguson fighting for? The right to walk into a store and take what they want, without paying? The right to physically attack others when held to a higher satandard? Or maybe they are fighting for their right to get physically aggressive with our local law enforcement officers while being detained and questioned about their poor behavior? How shameful. John Brownlee, dysfunctional reporting such as this, is a major contributing factor in the disinigration of our country . I hope you consider retracting this story.

  • "What are the protestors in Ferguson fighting for?" Not getting summarily executed without a trial. It doesn't matter if Michael Brown stole cigars. It doesn't matter if Michael Brown intimidated a store owner. What matters is that he did not deserve to be killed without trial for what happened and the fact that people like you think he should have is a perfect representation of all that is completely fucked about white America's view on the criminal justice system and the way police act towards minorities.

  • C.j. Pouliot

    No, what's fucked up is that people are making this a race issue. I am a minority, live in a large metro area, and I do not get harassed by the police. You know why? Because I live by a set of standards and obey the law. I do not reach into an officer's car and try to grab his gun. This behavior indicates that one believes that they have been stopped for more than just walking in the middle of the road. People really need to start using some critical thought. Look at the damage, that making assumptions, has caused to Ferguson. Stop making this about race and start seeing it for what it really is.... the inappropriate and stupid behavior of a teenager. No wonder our teens never learn anything. There's always a group of people that will twist the real issue and come to their defense. A life was lost, very sad. If we look at this for what it really is... we may save the life of another.

  • Tom Huynh

    Are you black and that of lower socioeconomics? The part of him trying to grab a gun is from the cops perspective, you know the one who crack down on a peaceful protest that is a reaction to mike browns death. The protest was met with riot gear , tear gas grenade (which can ignite fires), and military gear, which in turn spark the riot. It is a race issue because white America never understood why they have a strong dislike toward black America (psychological conditioning= root of racism) throughout their history and have a predominately controlled white police and legal system cracking down on predominately black community. When you ignore how the legal system favor one group of people and label others as criminals without HEAVY consideration then you have collective anger building up.

  • C.j. Pouliot

    He physically attacked a police officer while being detained and questioned about walking in the road. What is wrong with people thinking this is O.K? What about the average citizen's right to live In a safe community?

  • Tom Huynh

    I just love seeing the blind faith in authority figure. Its not like the police officer can have racist beliefs or bias to the point of lying or being one sided. Or they can be given orders to enforce a law that seem target one community more than the other. Its not like cops are bound by a paycheck and enforce the law mindlessly.

  • Franz Skuffka

    it's not reporting, it's an observation topped with personal hopes, nothing more, nothing less. it was just not brownlee's aim to talk about these points in specific, to a certain extend retracting himself from the discussion, admitting, that he might not be the right one or this might not be the right situation to discuss all of this.

    secondly, are you batshit insane? it is not about what people want, because it could be you as much as it is them, do you realise, that it is just luck, that your entity of conscience was chosen to be born in this skin of some white racist brat afterall. the problem is that a bullet to the head of a black kid from a white cop seems to be "just aight", nothing to really worry about.

  • C.j. Pouliot

    Observation.... Maybe I need to be more blunt, if one reaches into a police car and try's to grab an officer's gun.... one is going to get his ass shot! This incident had NOTHING to do with race and everything to do with stupidly.

    And what makes you think I am white? Assumptions and no capability to use critical thought.... don't worry you are not alone. Plenty of ignorant people out there for you to converse with.

  • Franz Skuffka

    it's because in your facebook pictures, you look pretty darn white. don't go about thinking others dont do their research. and yes, you belong to a minority. a minority with the power to suppress those they still fear.

    by stupidly you mean stupidity? you are being racist here, aren't you?

    and i can tell you have no fucking idea of what is really going on, because it is quite hard to observe people with your bare eyes in ferguson while you're in michigan, or am i wrong here? is there anything you do besides drinking cool aid and pissing it into other people's faces?

  • Sandra Sydnor

    Thank you for providing an innovative way of capturing the chord this story strikes across the globe!

  • This is a unbelievable liberal article. could you have tried to bait a race war any more you disgusting piece of trash? The eye witness reports have already been proven false. Most of them lied. all other than the witness talking while not knowing he was being recorded. i bet when It came down to it he said he saw him with his hands up. not charging the officer like he said initally. Rubber bullets at peaceful people? you mean the people looting their local business's? stealing hair extensions and cigars?

  • No, not at looters. At COMPLETELY PEACEFUL PROTESTERS on repeated occasions, including a STATE SENATOR, reporters, and children IN THEIR OWN FRONT YARDS before the imposed curfew and with little warning. This is video of this. Some ISOLATED looting did happen and most of the people involved directly in this looting have already been arrested.

    And to be honest this article isn't really all that liberal. It's just empathetic. Maybe try learning some that before you go around confusing "completely and unquestioningly conservative" for "neutral" because those really are not the same thing.

  • johntarr

    You really went out of your way to paint this as a racist cop over reaching, didn't you? First, the police officer's name has been released at the time of your writing, second, your overall tone ignores the (entirely possible and I would argue likely) scenario where Michael Brown became physical with the police officer and was struggling to get his gun.