“Make sure you find him and end him”: How far is too far when seeking justice on social media?

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

A horrific event, caught on CCTV and filmed by a local resident, blows up on social media. Then it all spirals out of control.

Where the story begins

7 am Tuesday 3rd November a 13-year-old student is walking to school alone. That day she won’t make it to class. Walking behind her is 26-year-old Kadian Nelson who proceeds to run towards the girl, grab her and carry her away.

A while later an 11-year old sees a grown man walking with a young schoolgirl, his hand over her mouth- it’s Nelson and the kidnapped child. She alerts her older sister and mother who follow the pair, video recording the events that follow.

Where social media comes into the conversation

After apprehending the suspect, Norrisa-Jean Fagan took to Facebook and Instagram to detail the events and post what she had recorded. We have found a tweet which shows Norrisa-Jean Fagan’s Instagram story. 

The Instagram post-produced uproar. Millions of users demanding justice and seeking it out too. Norrisa’s comments were flooded with Instagramers expressing their disgust and upset, with calls for justice loud and clear.

Musical artist Ivorian Doll commented “Absolutely heartbreaking”, while one commenter stated “This made me cry, omg. This is VILE!”

Popular meme account Imjustbait captioned a post about Nelson’s arrest: “He’s lucky didn’t catch no street justice! Hopefully, he gets the maximum sentence”

We asked Instagram users how they felt about the post. One user told us “I was definitely shocked… it was the first time I had seen something like it that wasn’t in a movie… but [it was] something I could see happening down my own road. It made me think a lot more about my younger brother… he’s in year 7 and going to school by himself, so I’m a bit concerned.”

But have the calls for justice gone too far?

Citizens soon decided to take things into their own hands, appealing to those online to share Nelson’s name and home address.

A Snapchat circulating the internet shows a group waiting outside one of these addresses, while in another a group of men apparently chasing a woman can be heard shouting, “Where’s your son, where’s Kadian?”. The woman is believed to be his mother.

The Metropolitan Police began requesting that individuals and groups stop attending the various addresses shared online. The warnings against vigilantes were clear- don’t do anything stupid, it won’t turn out well.

The other side of the coin

The reaction surrounding this rape and kidnap has not all been negative. The post has shed light to a subject that many remain ignorant to- predators in the UK. 

Social media users have shared various posts concerning the event urging others to do also. For many, it’s a warning of the real dangers children face across the country.

Action against Abduction stated that in 2018/19 there were over 1200 abductions in the UK, reporting that these figures had doubled since 2013/14.

Others have taken action to stop these kidnapping-rape cases from occurring, with groups like Forever Family UK who have taken to the streets of Mitcham to form a School patrol running 7-9 am and 2-5 pm.

Isa Perez, who used Instagram to reach out to children walking alone in her area of Uxbridge, had her comments filled with others willing to help and set up walking groups in their own local area.

What can we see from this one case?

Social media is sometimes a confusing place. It allows us to be creative, expressive, to build communication, to educate ourselves and others, but also, to overshare, harass and bully. The story of a 13-year-olds alleged kidnap and rape has brought to light ways we can use social media for the advancement of justice, but also how good intentions can quickly become bad actions.

Words: Leah Trimmer | Subbing: Sam Tabahriti

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