Updated 12/3/2012— The standoff between Baltimore police and a local activist played out in real time on Twitter, Dec. 1, in what was called, “153 minutes, 50 seconds of absolute online greatness.”
Nobody thought it strange to see a tweet from local activist and blogger A.F. James McArthur, known on Twitter and Facebook as Baltimore Spectator, because he uses social media to monitor Baltimore and spread awareness of the city’s issue. He’s often spoken of the ongoing conflict between himself and the Baltimore Police Department. But no one was prepared for the conversation that held hundreds of local and national tweeters spellbound.
The conversation chronicled the ongoing standoff and negotiation between McArthur and what he described as a police SWAT team, which ended with his surrender to authorities.
He sent the same tweet to an unwieldy list including Sen. John McCain, Kevin Spacey, Reuters, New York Times and Maryland Non-Profits Association: “Freedom’s under fire, but for many, [by the] time mainstream media warns it’ll be too late.”
He then tweeted the question, “Who out there truly believes the reason I’m being pursued is because I simply missed a court date? One for which there was no notification.”
These preceded an on-air interview with former Rep. Cynthia McKinney on Spreaker.com/user/baltimorespectator.
At 5:37, “the police have found me.”
At 5:44, “It’s about to be over.”
At 5:46, “trying to kick down door.”
At 5:47, a simple, “help me, not joking
At 5:48, “full swat team here…walls closing in.”
By then, McArthur’s Twitter followers were hooked, wondering how this could happen and what they could do to help. They encouraged him to give himself up.
But McArthur said the police department had done absolutely nothing to engender his trust. He called for cameras to come to his location, saying he had no phone, only Internet where he was.
At 6:13 p.m., he said he had been planning to surrender as soon as he could arrange sufficient cameras and witnesses.
Roland Martin, host of the “Washington Watch” show on the cable TV One network, even got into the conversation, first trying to clarify the circumstances, and ultimately lending his support and calling for McArthur’s lawyer to come to his assistance.
McArthur’s followers were totally drawn in; they panicked when his tweeting stopped temporarily and encouraged him to stand down when he described his hands as “deadly weapons.”
While many sent prayers and hopes of a peaceful outcome, not everyone was behind the well-known activist.
Pauly S. tweeted, “U realize the “city at war” can’t protect its people when they have dumb ass attention whores like u using BPD resources?”
Albion News tweeted, “Breaking news! Baltimore police attempt negotiations with man showing approximate IQ of 2 year old!”
The outcome? Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George said that , eventually, “plain clothes police officers just left and stated it ended peaceful.”
A video of McArthur submitting to police for arrest is posted on ABC2news.com. He is reportedly being held without bond.