By Lucy Stein and Pedro Martinez

Pearville, IL and Boulder, CO – Concerned citizens are calling for immediate action by Pearville school and town authorities in light of incriminating video evidence tying multiple high school boys, all football players, to a recent assault.

“There doesn't seem to be anybody advocating for the victim,” says Sharon McBroome, whose virtual petition calling for the students' arrests has received over a thousand signatures. “Who hasn't had too much to drink at a party? This girl could be any of us. That's why I created the hashtag #iammae to drum up public support.”

The hashtag has been gaining traction with over 400 mentions so far, including this one by the actor Laquisha James:

[@LaquishaJ: it's happened again, y'all. shit athletes in a shit town commit heinous crime & walk free. spread the word and make a difference. #iammae]

“The fact is, there's never been any ambiguity about these boys' guilt,” adds Lauren Jacobs. McBroome and Jacobs are students at the University of Colorado Boulder and founding members of the campus Feminist Alliance. “If you don't believe us, just watch the video.”

But Kevin Dewy, a criminal defense attorney unconnected to the case, disagrees that the video should be a basis for arrest. “Evidence is a tricky thing. For example, the original viral video appears to show a crime being committed. But it's just dark enough and just grainy enough that it could be misleading. My understanding is the alleged victim did not press charges or make a complaint at that time, which would have made an arrest difficult.”

Frank Patterson, a law professor at the University of Chicago, explains that it boils down to a question of first amendment rights. “As an example, let's say somebody wanted to frame someone else for arson, so they dressed up as that person and filmed it and posted that to the internet. Let's say that video was kinda dark and grainy. It would be wrong to convict on the basis of that video. You could even make an argument that it would be wrong to arrest someone on the basis of that video.”

Frustrated by the inaction, students at CU-Boulder have created an open wiki about the situation in order to compile information from disparate sources. “What I learned very quickly is there are so many people who feel that all three boys should be punished,” says McBroome. “Not only the boy who actually committed the crime, but also the one who aided and abetted by holding the victim in the water, and also the one who filmed the whole thing. Recording sexual acts of minors is considered child pornography in the state of Illinois.” McBroome thinks the other partygoers who recorded video should also be prosecuted, but admits their involvement would be hard to prove. “So far over sixty people have contributed to the wiki, which is a huge number in such a short span of time.” She encourages supporters to continue to rally around the #iammae hashtag.

“To us, this isn't a matter of free speech or internet culture,” adds Jacobs. “It's about a crime being committed and the victim receiving the justice she deserves.”

[ ] Infuriating! I just signed the petition and so should you.

   [ ] Just signed.

      [ ] !!same!!

         [ ] You're the problem, you know. Signing petitions and talking in hashtags instead of taking action.

            [ ] hello? do u not understand online activism? without starting the convo, we wouldn't even be having this debate.

               [ ] And what action do you suppose we take, Mr. Vigilante?

               [ ] Thank you!! Sharing news stories is the best some of us can do. It's up to the local police departments to take action. That's their job, not ours.

                  [ ] brb, getting my tazer

                     [ ] lol, I'll wait!

[ ] The moment you quote Laquisha James in a news article is the moment I lose respect for your publication.

   [ ] We'll miss you. /s

[ ] My popcorn's ready.

   [ ] right? i was waiting for the hashtag.

      [ ] What's next? A benefit concert?

         [ ] If it was 1996, maybe. I say reality show or line of bathing suits.

[ ] Ugh. College kids. Stop talking.

[ ] So now we arrest people because the internet tells us to?

   [ ] you've never heard of corruption??

[ ] go home internet, you're drunk.

[ ] My favorite part is that none of the people quoted in this article are involved in the case in any way.

[ ] To everybody who's putting these activists down: What do you have against activism? Activism is getting involved when you don't have to. College students who spend their time advocating for others should be applauded, not insulted.

    [ ] have you heard of freedom of speech?

    [ ] They don't have to get involved, and they shouldn't. That's the point.

       [ ] Yeah, okay. When there is no more corruption in the world, all the activists can go home, got it.

       [ ] Do you think there's no problem with what's going on in Pearville? Be honest.

          [ ] It sounds like a fucked up town full of small-minded idiots, but it's not my place to tell them how to run their business.

             [ ] So you're a libertarian. Everything becomes clear.

                [ ] I'm not a libertarian, but EVEN IF I WAS, as an outsider I don't have all the facts.

                   [ ] even if you were*

                      [ ] Must you comment on every article?

    [ ] Isn't that the ideal role the press plays, though, to root out corruption? We can only know the facts as they are reported, but that, often, should be enough to take action.

       [ ] Do you consider a hashtag action?

          [ ] I live in Oregon, farther from Illinois than the students quoted in this article. Save for calling the police department personally or writing an ineffectual letter to my congressperson, furthering a hashtag might be the most productive thing I can do. It makes me feel like I've made a difference on some small, manageable, level.

             [ ] So we get to the heart of the matter. It makes YOU feel good.

                [ ] Altruism is officially dead. Here lies altruism.

                   [ ] if that's true, we have nobody but ourselves to blame

                [ ] Must activism and warm fuzzy feelings be mutually exclusive?

                [ ] So what is the alternative? Doing nothing?


chapter thirty-five