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In wake of Charleston shooting, activists pledge #WeWillShootBack

Some African-Americans on Twitter pledge self-defense.

In wake of Dylann Roof’s terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina, which killed nine African-American churchgoers, the new hashtag #WeWillShootBack has surged on Twitter.

Akinyele Umoja, chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Georgia State University and author of the 2013 book also titled We Will Shoot Back, had a positive reaction to the hashtag.

“I support it, if it means our communities take a more active and conscious role in protecting their neighborhoods, institutions, and most of all our humanity from those who threaten our lives,” Dr Umoja told the Daily Dot in an email. “The killing of Trayvon Martin to the tragedy in Charleston demonstrated that the Black community must be more vigilant to prevent terrorism waged on our people. It is necessary for Black people to organize, be more conscious of internal and external threats to our humanity, and watch each other’s backs.”

The founder of #WeWillShootBack, prominent online activist Sankofa Brown, spoke with the Daily Dot about why he felt the need to bring this hashtag—used more than 21,000 times as of this writing—to life.

“I’ve been working as an advocate of militarism or self defense for quite some time,” Brown said. “I feel like due to the climate of the situation, and I feel like the climate has always existed that the time for ourselves as opposed people to defend ourselves. I emphasize in the ‘we shoot back’ part that it is in response to attacks, not initiating attacks.”

Brown wasn’t surprised that the hashtag explodes on social media, garnering massive attention from African-American activists.

“I knew that there was a specific passion for black youth and others to respond and defend ourselves and our humanity.” Brown said. “Oftentimes we hear nonviolence only when we’re talking about black people and what’s happening to black people. The first immediate reaction is to be nonviolent. But nobody ever tells the people that are oppressing us, the people that are attacking us, the people that are brutalizing us to be nonviolent..”

Brown is a gun owner, he added, and “has been for quite some time.” On Twitter, he was unfazed by recent claims that Roof wanted to start a race war.

Photo via  frankieleon/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

William Turton

William Turton

Once named one of Forbes’ 20 Under 20 and hired as a staff writer for the Daily Dot when he was still a senior in high school, William Turton is a rising tech reporter focusing on information security, hacking culture, and politics. Since leaving the Daily Dot in April 2016, his work has appeared on Gizmodo, the Outline, and Vice News Tonight on HBO.