The deadly confrontations in Ferguson; in Cleveland, where police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy who was playing with a pellet gun, and in New York City, where police choked and killed a man who was selling loose cigarettes, prompted young people to take to social media and the streets to express outrage and demand change. The Washington Post says the unrest generated by the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner eventually may become the first scene in a stirring saga of how a moment builds into a movement.
Or, says the newspaper, “it could end up as a cautionary tale about how a righteous activism born of traumatic incidents fizzles, the energy of dozens of new activist groups sapped by quotidian realities and the shortened attention spans of a society that expresses its political passions in Likes and tweets.” “To go from protesting to power, you need demonstrations, legislation and litigation,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson,who has acted in recent months as an informal adviser and cheerleader for several new groups. The new activists are still trying to tune their instrument. They are still figuring out whether to hew to local issues or go national. For the most part, the young protesters haven't connected with elders such as Jackson or the Rev. Al Sharpton. They have uneasy relationships not only with civil rights fighters of generations past, but also with the black mayors and police chiefs who owe their own positions to the successes of earlier activism.