When a Baltimore man was beaten and stripped naked on the street, several people with cameras or camera phones caught the entire incident.
No one can be sure of which site had the videos first, but they were then quickly posted to sites with avid followings, chief among them 4chan, YouTube, Reddit and WorldStarHipHop.
Eventually, all of this angered someone enough to track down one of the suspects.
Armed with clear visuals from the videos, Anthony Mandich of Orange County, Calif., took it upon himself to track down the primary suspect on Twitter and Facebook. Mandich posted names, contact information and photos of the suspect to his blog, and even went so far as to make the suspect’s name keywords, so that anyone who entered the person’s name in a search engine would land there.
“The images of [him] mugging for the camera before the humiliation began and then creeping up and [to] start digging through the guys pockets like it was a big joke - I really hated that,” Mandich told the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday.
Though the suspect in the courthouse beating has not been identified, the Sun found that his Twitter page had been shut down in the wake of online backlash.
It’s not the first time videotaped assaults have lead to viral attention on the Internet. Last April, a 14-year-old girl was charged in the beating of a transgendered woman in a Baltimore McDonalds after video of the attack surfaced on social sites.
The power of such postings is perhaps no better exemplified than by a site like WorldStarHipHop. Described by founder Lee O’Denat as “CNN of the ghetto,” it was among the first to post videos of the McDonald’s beating. Last week, the site posted video of a beating in Howard County that lead to the arrest of a Baltimore man. And, Tuesday, the site had also posted the video of the beating outside of the courthouse.
According to the Sun, police spokesman Donny Moses said the victim is from Arlington, Va., and police were able to piece together details of what happened after he reported waking up in his hotel room without some of his belongings March 19.
(You can view the Baltimore Reddit chain that addresses the beating here, but it contains language not safe for work.)