Last night while trawling Facebook I came across a post that had been shared by an acquaintance of mine. The picture showed a young black man, hand cuffed and lying on the floor. His lips were bloodied from a blow that must have been directed at his nose. He looked scared.
I have edited the picture to obscure the man’s face.
I clicked on it out of curiosity. Who was this “Marshall Security” that was posting pictures of bloodied people on Facebook? The description of the side of the picture offered some explanation.
“At 12:15 today one of our reaction officers noticed this suspect being chased down Margaret Maytom Avenue, our Reaction Officer and one of our Special Operations Team Members apprehended the suspect, it was then established that he had been trespassing on a residents property in Margaret Maytom Avenue and was seen attempting to break into a car that was parked on the property but was disturbed by the residents.
Well done to all involved, glad the residents were vigilant!”
A quick Google searched revealed that they are a private security company based in Durban North.
It appeared that Marshall Security had posted a picture of a man suspected of trespassing and suspected of attempting to break into a car. I think it is unacceptable that they would post a picture of a man in this condition and then label him a trespasser and a thief in a public platform. More worryingly it seems that while being apprehended he had sustained a bloody nose. He could have tripped and fallen while being chased but he also could have been assaulted by heavy-handed private security officers. I considered the latter more likely as I read the comments.
I spend a lot of time on the internet. In an attempt to keep myself sane and contain the rage I try to stay away from comment sections. This is usually because they allow people to post anonymously – I’m looking at you news24! People are often tempered on Facebook because their comments, pictures, shares and likes are so closely associated with their name and face. Usually I wouldn’t have read the comments on the picture because I know that they would upset me. But part of me wanted to see that other people thought what Marshall Security had done was wrong too. I wanted to see someone call them out. But as I scrolled down there wasn’t one comment that suggested that they shouldn’t have identified this person or taken a picture of him handcuffed. No one asked why he had a bloody nose. Instead the comments were a special kind of horrid. Here is a selection of comments I winced and cringed through.
Steve Evans noticed that the man had been hit in the face and encouraged Marshall Security to hit him again.
Debbie Williams suggested that Marshall Security should have cut his hands off.
Liz Van Goeverden suggested that they should drown this man.
Yvette Cleugh fleshed out Liz’s plan to drown him but suggested (in what I imagine to be a racist black accent, Liz? Really?) that they should add some concrete to the bag before they tossed him in the sea.
Adding to the plans to “bump” his nose into the pavement, cut his hands off and throw him in the sea (don’t forget the concrete, Liz!), Wesley Gates suggested that Marshall Security should break a few of his fingers.
Wesley’s bone breaking suggestion was shortly followed up by Jn Rahm’s suggestion that he should be kicked in the head.
I could go on. There were suggestions on every end of this graphic spectrum. You would imagine that the very least Marshall Security would be worried about its reputation and publicly discourage talk of vigilantism. They may even go as far as to delete some of the comments which incite violence. But not only does Marshall Security allow people to post comments of this nature, they go so far as to ‘like’ them. They liked all the posts I mentioned above and most of the violent, racist comments on other similar pictures.
They liked a post by Jeremy Hook on another picture of an apprehended man that simply said “Bang”.
What does it mean to ‘like’ something on Facebook? What social action is connected to the fleeting moment when Marshall Security hovered over the like button and then clicked it? Are they condoning the comment, supporting it or agreeing with the statement? Do they think it is funny? When I ‘like’ something on Facebook those are the reasons I do it. I would never ‘like’ something that I disagree with. If I find a post repulsive or if it makes me angry I would never click the like button. I can only then assume the same for Marshall Security. This is deeply troubling.
By liking these posts Marshall Security has publicly supported sentiments which are unacceptable and in most cases disgusting. They should be held accountable for their actions. They may not have written the comments but they agree with them.
I encourage you to go to Marshall Security’s profile and leave comments on the pictures. Tell them that you think this sort of behaviour is unacceptable. It worries me that the Marshall Security employee who clicks ‘like’ may be the same person bashing peoples’ noses. While you are there also have a go at the people who have left hateful and violent comments. I don’t think the little bubble of Facebook users who like the Marshall Security profile have often been exposed to differing view points. Let’s share ours with them. Don’t expect many ‘likes’ though. I expect Marshall Security only likes it one way.
We need to expose companies like this that publicly encourage violence, vigilantism and racism. A company which has a public profile is subject to public scrutiny. If you have seen any other companies doing the same thing please let me know or send me a screen shot.