Black Man Live Streaming Minneapolis Protest Swatted by Alt Right Racists
Prominent Streamer Derrick Branch drove to the protests in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday night to protest the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who had been killed by the police earlier this week.
Branch stood at the protest while live streaming the events from his personal Facebook page, chanting in unison “I Can’t Breathe” with fellow protectors and encouraging his local followers to come out and stand up in the name of the dead.
Branch did not know that his stream had been hijacked and rebroadcast from a fascist YouTube channel owned by user lucky43113 with over 17,000 people watching the bursts of violence manifest before their eyes as Branch narrated what he saw around him. The YouTube user was also dual streaming the local Minneapolis police scanner.
The first few mentions of a “Black man in a hood with a gun” that came across the scanner happened while Branch was talking.
He continued to read his comments.
“Protesters just said someone out here is flashing a gun? Someone else confirm that.” Branch said as he quickly moved back from the scene. “This shouldn’t happen. We can’t do this. Violence never fixes violence, Man. I wish people didn’t do things like this, it makes it worse for us.”
Branch proceeds to move far back from the crowd, hoping to avoid an escalation in violence when his viewers alert him that the police on the scanner called him out by name: “The guy with dread and a black hoodie carrying a locked and loaded gun…
… his name is Derrick Branch.”
Branch’s eyes grew wide. On the video on Youtube he was completely unaware of, in front of a growing audience that was now predominately filled with comments featuring horrendous racist slurs, claiming he was about to die and laughing, spewing aggressive, hate infused language at the streamer, Branch froze.
“I don’t have a gun.” He said blankly before holding up his phone “Is this a gun?” He asked his viewers. He help up his water bottle collected from a package on the sidewalk moments before. “Is this a gun?”
Immediately, Branch’s phone began buzzing frantically with concerned friends texting him, urging him to leave, worried he would be hurt. This is a community that has the death of George Floyd fresh on their minds as well as dozen upon dozens of innocent black men, women and children, unarmed, shot down or brutally restrained to the point of death by police. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Tice, all needlessly killed. In an Era where the US Administration has enabled and emboldened police brutality against black Americans we have witnessed events of police involved killings double by 2016, with most of the officers never held accountable, not charged, arrested and in some cases, not even fired.
We have seen white people use this in order to frighten and intimidate black people in public spaces by calling the police on them for doing things like selling lemonade, sleeping in a college dormitory lobby, or enjoying a family cookout on the beach. More recently, Christian Cooper, a birdwatcher in New York, found himself berated by a woman after he asked her to put her dog on a leash according to the park laws. She became irate, picked up her phone and said “I’m going to call the police and tell them an African American man is threatening my life.” She proceeded to do just that, knowing very well it could have resulted in his death. She weaponized the hostile climate of the police toward Black Americans.
Knowing how deadly the results could potentially be if suspected of having a gun at a protest, the visibly shaken Derrick Branch fled to his car as he continued to read his messages explaining that the police were now looking for him. Panicked, he repeated over and over again; “I do not have a gun! You have watched me since I began streaming. I chanted “I can’t breathe!” I didn’t touch anything, not even the barricade, I didn’t do anything!” He said to his viewers. “I told you I am not down with violence! Why would I have a gun?!”
“How do they know my name?” Branch wondered aloud, still unaware that his stream had been hijacked and rebroadcast to YouTube for nefarious purposes.
The comments on the YouTube live stream that flew upward at mach speed saw his assailants celebrating. They were mocking him, calling him names, peppering the feed with racist hate speech. The broadcaster even superimposed a raccoon over Branch’s face in a racist gesture.
“You did this.” he said, believing it was one of his Facebook viewers. “You had to do this, one of you.” He shook his head in disbelief. “It’s people like you that get people like me killed.”
“I don’t even go out like this. But I have a voice. I recently found out how to use my voice, that’s why I’m out here. But I ever once promoted violence. I never once said I wanted violence. What did you gain from that? You went after a person who was protesting to stand up for a victim killed by police brutality.”
Indeed, people he didn’t even know were watching him, people not his friends, were hoping to see Branch get killed on the live stream for their own amusement. There is no question that young black men, like Branch, have been burdened with unthinkable trauma, repeatedly, as they hear stories of men like themselves killed in broad daylight, in the open, and their murderers adorned with a police badge suffering no consequence as result of their heinous actions.
Here is the moment Branch realized he had been targeted.
You can watch his full two hour facebook live here.