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Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 14 2014

#NMOS14 infographic by @dakrolak

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

Late last night, the hacker collective Anonymous sent out a call for the citizens of the United States to come together for a “Day of Rage”—at the exact time and locations as the National Moment of Silence events. Giving no mention of the original organizers or the original event name, they simply co-opted the hard work that Feminista Jones and others have put in over the past four days. Worse, many worry that #DayOfRage will obscure the peaceful message of #NMOS14, in spite of the fact that anonymous claims to want peaceful protests. The phrase #DayOfRage has been understandably misunderstood.

Anonymous's #DayOfRage received a boost of undeserved and inappropriate legitimacy when the Washington Post covered the vigils under the headline “Ferguson riots prompt hacker collective Anonymous to wage Day of Rage.” The headline was later changed to “Hacker collective Anonymous supports vigils following Ferguson riots” with a note at the end indicating the story has been updated, but without any details as to how. The headline change is only evident because of the original URL.

Finally, organizers have been struggling with malfunctioning Facebook pages and a oft-unresponsive Google Doc.

Jones is imploring people to tweet locations and times.

She has also set up a number to text for more information.

And just in case anyone needs a reminder of how hard organizing is, even—perhaps especially—in the days of social media, one last tweet from Feminista Jones:

Related: Journalist Kelsey D Atherton has put together a fascinating Storify of veterans tweeting about the recent events in Ferguson and the militarization of the United States police.