Experts say Black social media, specifically “Black Twitter,” made all the difference in Shanquella Robinson’s murder case.
Robinson was pronounced dead on Oct. 29 in a rented villa in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, a day after she arrived with six companions.
Her travel companions initially told authorities and Robinson’s family that she died from “alcohol poisoning.”
The U.S. State Department swept Robinson’s case under the rug and insisted foul play did not contribute to her death.
The 25-year-old hair stylist from Charlotte, North Carolina would have been just another statistic if Black Twitter detectives didn’t break the case.
Most of the credit goes to Robinson’s grieving mom, Sallamondra, who pleaded for justice for her daughter when Mexican authorities and the U.S. government closed the case.
Queen City News in Charlotte did the early leg work. The media outlet requested an autopsy report from Mexico that showed Robinson’s death resulted from a broken neck and spinal cord injury.
The autopsy was supported by a leaked video that showed Robinson being savagely beaten by one of her travel companions.
Black Twitter sleuths took the case and made the video go viral.
Smh!! RT @Prettybrklyn: Justice for Shanquella Robinson ?? !!!! WATCH WHO YOU CALL YOUR FRIENDS! A snippet of what TRULY happened in mexico foh . alcohol poisoning my ass!! THAT IS Daejane Jackson fighting her !!!#shanquellarobinson #justiceforshanquella pic.twitter.com/ykjZqEuGyO
— Dionna Thaxton (@MiizzYellowBone) November 16, 2022
They identified the female aggressor and the other travel companions, and published their photos, social media pages, addresses, employers, and even birth certificates.
Black Twitter detectives gathered evidence and presented their case to the FBI, which ultimately launched an investigation into Robinson’s murder.
Mexican authorities reopened Robinson’s case amid the public outcry and an arrest warrant was issued for one of her travel companions.
Multiple news outlets in Mexico report that the charge is femicide because prosecutors believe the person attacking Robinson in the video is a male-to-female transgender.
Femicide is a hate crime that is defined as “the intentional killing of women or girls because they are female.”
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Sallamondra Robinson expressed her gratitude to Black Twitter for breaking the case. She said Black Twitter kept the case from going cold.
Sallamondra told Queen City News she had a “good feeling” after the arrest warrant was announced.
Legal experts say Robinson would be just another statistic if not for Black Twitter.
“Social media has been around and has been used as an amplification and social justice tool for almost a decade,” Sherri Williams, a professor of race, media, and communication at American University told NBC News.
“Black folks know that mainstream news media has a history of completely ignoring our stories,” she added. “So we’ve been using these tools to amplify our stories ourselves. And it works! We see this cycle of mainstream news media basically following the chatter on Black social media.”