Lessons from #McKinney: Social Media and the Interactive Construction of Police Brutality

Meredith D. Clark, Dorothy Bland, Jo Ann Livingston

Abstract


Video evidence of police aggression and assault on civilians has previously been considered irrefutable evidence of misconduct; its circulation contributes to the creation of “celebrated cases” of police brutality that draw attention because of their high-profile nature. In June 2015, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter comments on a citizen-captured video of a police officer attempting to apprehend an African-American girl at a pool party in McKinney, Texas, trended as one incident in the #BlackLivesMatter movement’s canon of police mistreatment of African-American citizens. Through the lens of critical race theory, this qualitative content analysis triangulates data from three social media platforms to explore how users interpreted the incident. This study develops insights on how a “celebrated case” of police brutality is constructed by social media audiences. It makes a significant contribution to the literature by focusing on the often-overlooked experiences of African-American women and girls as victims of police brutality.



Keywords


#BlackLivesMatter; #McKinney; #SayHerName; Twitter; Facebook; YouTube; African-American; Black women; Black girls; police brutality; use of force; Critical Race Theory

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References


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