social media

How Social Media Affected Perception of Harvard Student's Arrest

In the hours after the forcible arrest of a Harvard student Friday night, tweets were sent with hashtags calling it "Cambridge Cops Attack" and "Police Brutality at Harvard."

The latter hashtag was retweeted more than 140 times.

"A lot of times they look at that initial piece of it and say, 'Oh, I know what kind of story this is. This is a story about race. This is a story about cops,'" said Chris Daly, a journalism professor at Boston University. "We bring our preconceptions to almost anything we see."

Daly is warning of the initial rush to judgement before facts are released.

Friday night, Cambridge Police met Selorm Ohene at Massachusetts Avenue. He was standing naked in the middle of the street.

Crowds of people watched from the sides of the street with some recording the interaction on their phone.

Cameras captured police tackling the naked man to the ground.

One officer punched Ohene several times while allegedly trying to get his hands from underneath his Body.

Saturday morning it was released that Ohene was apparently high on LSD.

Daly said smartphones and social media have broken up the monopoly of information once held by police.

More witnesses can now give their version of the story to the public instantaneously.

Almost a half hour after the arrest, a tweet was sent with a 45-second video clip of the takedown attached to it.

It was viewed more than 4,000 times before the man who recorded it deleted it over the weekend.

Police noticed the rapid circulation of stories on social media and reacted to it.

The morning after the arrest, Cambridge Police were tweeting directly at people who were questioning the tactics used.

The tweets by police contained their official statement apparently typed in the "Notes" section of an iPhone and then sent to the public.

According to Cambridge Police Director of Communications Jeremy Warnick, the tweets were sent as a "proactive measure on (the department's) part to make those following aware of the broader circumstances surrounding the events."

Daly calls that tactic a "good thing" knowing they are being scrutinized and are willing to engage with people.

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