How It's Supposed To Work: Twitter Sleuths Nab Hate Crime Perps

from the smh dept

While we’ve covered several instances in the past of local law enforcement actually using Twitter and social media services productively in order to capture criminals, as opposed to when they use Twitter horribly, it’s far more fun to show what a connected public can do on their own. There are plenty of examples of how crowd-sourcing police efforts to track down the bad guys can go horribly wrong (ahem, Boston Marathon bombing), but this is the story of how it can also work quite well.

The crime was an attack on two gay men who were simply walking down the street in Philadelphia when a large group of men and women approached them, harassed them, and eventually beat them savagely enough that one of the victims had to have his jaw wired shut. Then, because one good evil turn deserves another, they robbed one of the victims as well. While such brutality may bring on depression, take heart, for the local people were outraged and actively took to social media sites to voice their concern. Local police smartly released surveillance footage of the attack, with pictures of the assailants:

Almost immediately, Twitter ignited to help find the people responsible for the crime. One user in particular seems to be getting credit for identifying the perps.

Twitter user fansince09 told Action News he was disgusted by the attack. Apparently many of his followers were, too, and they joined in the effort. Fansince09 tweeted the video to his thousands of followers, and soon re-tweeted a picture apparently taken of this group at a nearby restaurant. He looked on Facebook to see who had checked into that restaurant, and started clicking links, matching pictures to the video. His effort resulted in a picture of a large party dining at a Center City restaurant. Police sources say that photograph is now part of the investigation.

If you’d like to follow how the whole thing unfolded on Twitter, here’s a great rundown put together by Melody Kramer, which we’ve also embedded below.

The police even gave him a shout out on Twitter to say thanks. Those responsible for the crime are reportedly now in touch with their attorneys and are making arrangements to turn themselves in to the authorities. As someone living in a metropolitan city, I can’t even begin to tell you how often these types of attacks go unpunished, so it’s good to see social media working to get a little justice done.

Nicely done, Philly.

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