CNN’s #ASKACOP Twitter campaign incites online fury

CNN’s #ASKACOP Twitter campaign incites online fury
Whether by folly or design, CNN’s #ASKACOP social media campaign, which sought to create a dialogue between police and the public, has elicited a brutal backlash on Twitter.

The hashtag was intended to bring in viewer participation for a CNN program called “Cops Under Fire,” in which host Don Lemon fielded questions from a live studio audience and social media users.

READ MORE: #ICantBreathe: Thousands march against police brutality across US (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

If CNN was looking to generate a buzz, it succeeded wildly, though perhaps not in the way it had intended.

By the time the show aired Tuesday evening, #AskACop became one of the top-rated trends in the US. But just a cursory glance of the tweets shows any pacified conversation on police-public relations was off the table.

In tweets that were both sarcastic and indignant, the Twitterverse was flooded with variations on issues of police brutality.

Some examples forwarded pictures of people being kicked or choked by police, questioning why such excessive levels of violence were being used against people who were already restrained.

Eric Garner, whose July death at the hands of New York police sparked a nationwide protest movement under the “I can’t breathe” slogan, came up prominently.

So did the broader issue of racism in policing. The number of instances where white mass murderers were brought in safely alive, whereas unarmed black men were shot dead, was one prominent theme. Others questioned why people would sign up to police black neighborhoods if they had an inherent fear of African Americans.

“#AskACop why become a cop in a Black neighborhood if you're afraid of Black people? I'm afraid of ghosts, so you see me being a Ghostbuster?” Jamilah Lemieux wrote in a particularly biting message that was retweeted nearly 1,500 times.

Several cases in which handcuffed black men reportedly committed suicide while in police custody were forwarded to CNN for the panel’s consideration.

Broader trends of aggression prevalent among police officers in general also came up regularly, highlighting how some communities feel more threatened by police than protected.

The level of public backlash on Twitter highlights social tensions fueled both by the Garner case and the August shooting death of Michael Brown. In both cases, grand juries opted not to indict officers on any charges, despite the fact that both men were unarmed when confronted by police

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people came out to protests across the US to protest the killing of unarmed black men by police.