Frank James MacArthur, a blogger from Baltimore, broadcasted his standoff with police Saturday, according to an article in The Baltimore Sun. MacArthur, who was wanted on a court-issued warrant, refused to come out of his for five hours, guided by the belief that police had “wronged him” and focused too much attention on him.
Saturday was not the first time MacArthur spoke out about his situation. MacArthur had been “posting on social media for days about his ‘fugitive’ status and predicted that police would try to harm him,” according to the Sun.
The day of the standoff, MacArthur broadcasted his discussion with a police negotiator on his web video channel. An audience also followed his situation on Twitter.
While it remains unclear whether MacArthur was legitimately wronged, broadcasting his standoff was certainly a unique and interesting way to get the word out. It sort of follows the old adage “innocent until proven guilty.” People should be able to prove their cases before he or she reaches court? They have a right to speak up about their situation. During his imprisonment, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., took pen to paper, to discuss his situation and the state of the civil rights movement in America. MacArthur also acted within his rights when he took to the radio and social media outlets.
That being said, whether or not MacArthur’s posts warranted a response from the police remains a gray area. Police officials said to the Sun that MacArthur’s messages were threatening toward officers and required a precautionary presence of the SWAT team.” However, some of the posts seem to lack legitimacy. Did the police shoot themselves in the foot by responding to posts that did not seem legitimate? Lt. Jason Yerg even told MacArthur he was “spinning this into what it doesn’t need to be,” according to the Sun. If MacArthur was blowing the situation out of proportion, as Yerg suggested, why did they bother giving him a response? Responding to his posts makes the posts seem more credible.
Whether or not MacArthur’s posts were legitimate remains unclear. However, the incident should serve as a reminder that every organization needs to have a social media policy in place. Who knows? There could be more MacArthurs in the future.