Things got ugly last night on Twitter when a heated argument erupted involving Shaun King, DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie.
This morning, King posted an article at the New York Daily News arguing the importance of making police brutality videos go viral to bring justice and awareness to #BlackLivesMatter victims. The article is a response to criticism King faced from McKesson and Elzie from the evening before after he posted video of Nicholas Robertson’s death on Twitter on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 13. King also tweeted posts and images from other Twitter users saying that they were given back their donations to debunk accusations that he had misappropriated funds he had received for Justice Together, King’s now defunct #BlackLivesMatter organization.
Robertson is a police brutality victim who was shot while walking, then crawling away from the authorities on a Lynwood, CA street. Mckesson took issue with the video that King posted, arguing that it was disrespectful to victims’ and their families became it violated their privacy. That was when Mckesson pointed out his distrust of King, suggesting that he was misusing funds he’d received to help police brutality victims.
Things really took a turn for the worse when King then attacked Mckesson for supposedly being against working with female colleagues in today’s Black Liberation Movement, most notably Johnetta Elzie. This was seen as a particularly petty and inappropriate jab, as Mckesson is widely known as being an out gay male. Shockingly, King deleted his entire history of tweets as of this morning, so his original comments are no longer available to see.
Elzie in particular took offense to King’s critique of Mckesson. She was angered at being singled out and felt that King’s attack on Mckesson was merely a detraction from the various charges that have been made against King regarding his misuse of funds for his organization, as well as the accusation that he’s been lying about his racial identity as a half-Black, half-White man.
Elzie also expressed her frustration that King wasn’t a true activist, only someone who wrote and mused about the Black Lives Matter movement from the comfort of his own home while Mckesson and Elzie were the ones who were out marching in the streets and interacting with other people in grassroots settings to mobilize the movement.
Shaun King’s name began trending on the micro-blogging platform as a result of their bickering, sparking angry and sensational responses from onlookers throughout Black Twitter. Many pointed out their long-held mistrust of Shaun King because of the accusations that had been made against him in the past about exploiting #BlackLivesMatter for profit and branding, as well as him possibly lying about his racial identity.
Others expressed their frustration that the argument was a bad look for the movement, giving others (particularly Whites and conservative media) to discredit the work and intentions of #BlackLivesMatter at large. Even Gabrielle Union, a former board member for Justice Together, chimed in saying:
Though really embarrassing, I think we can all agree that hopefully King, Mckesson and Elzie can resolve their beef offline when things cool off a little bit. I’m not here for activists arguing online and showing their ass but at the end of the day, each of these people are human beings with feelings and imperfections. I’m sure that if Twitter was around back in the 1950s and 60s during the Civil Rights Era, we would have seen some embarrassing things come out from MLK, Malcolm X and others that could have compromised their public personas as activists.
If anything, King, Mckesson and Elzie bring up a really important debate about whether or not it’s ethical to release the videos of police brutality deaths and assaults on social media.
What do you think of the blow up among King, Mckeson and Elzie? Are you here for releasing videos of #BlackLivesMatter victims being abused and killed as a tool to bring them justice? Sound off below.