Whether it be the 2008 elections, the debate of healthcare reform or organizing after the passage of California’s Prop. 8, the internet, blogs and various social networking sites have reshaped the political and social fabric of America.
Activists in Wilmington are taking the model to new heights, as they track the course of a criminal case stemming from a July anti-gay hate crime and organize on the street for change. At NoH8NC.com, Ryan Burris and other LGBT advocates are combining the power of the pen with the 24-hour, 365-day-per-year reach of the internet.
In late July, University of North Carolina-Wilmngton alumni Chaz Housand and Chet Saunders were walking home from a downtown bar when they were attacked by three men. Media coverage of the event was sparse at first. The local daily ran a feature and then attention seemed to fade away.
Media attention soon returned when Burris and his friends started publishing updates on the three accused assailants and organizing morning rush hour demonstrations. Writers on the site have provided original research, including a look into the past criminal records of the three accused.
Burris told Q-Notes he hopes the site and activism help to unite the Wilmington community.
“I’d like to get a group together that incorporates all the groups together,” he said. “I’d like to have something that unifies and brings something together.”
He said the site and his friends are focusing their attention on the July hate crime and Safer Communities Act, a bill that would expand North Carolina’s hate crimes law to include attacks motivated by sexual orientation, gender-identity, gender and disability.
“Our short term goal for now is to continue with the protests. The obvious long term goal would be to get the Safer Communities Act to pass legislation,” Burris told UNC-Wilmington’s student newspaper, The Seahawk.
So far, the group has held two protests — one on Aug. 24 and another on Sept. 10.