The news: The outrage over the lack of indictments in Michael Brown and Eric Garner's deaths may seem like an American response to an American problem with racism and police brutality, but it has struck a nerve throughout the world.
Last week, Twitter created a gorgeous map visualizing how the hashtags most associated with Brown and Garner's killings — #BlackLivesMatter, #HandsUpDontShoot and #ICantBreathe — have proliferated on its platform. The stunning animation captures how these hashtags exploded into the global consciousness, especially after big events such as the grand jury decisions in both cases:
Back in August, Twitter published a similar map showing how the #Ferguson hashtag took over the world:
Why this is important: The idea that "the world is watching" has been echoed by people such as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Eric Holder in recent months, and they're absolutely right. The circumstances surrounding Brown and Garner's deaths, and the subsequent reactions to grand juries' decisions not to indict the cops involved in their killings, have drawn global coverage and criticism (especially from some countries that don't have great human rights records of their own).
But what has been the most moving to witness has been the solidarity that people around the world expressed with protesters in Ferguson and New York — from activists in Palestine sharing their tear gas tips to Egyptian police asking officers in Ferguson not to use excessive force.
And the Twitter hashtags — #HandsUpDontShoot referring to Brown's alleged actions before he was killed, and #ICantBreathe referring to Garner's last words — have been important ways to gauge how the news and reactions over Brown and Garner's deaths have spread globally online. They might just be hashtags, but when tweeted millions of times across the world, they become something powerful.