(Sometimes) Speaking Out: Temporal analysis of interaction with #DefundThePolice on Twitter
Following the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, individuals and organizations began to discuss the perceived need to defund police departments and invest in alternatives on Twitter. While the Defund the Police campaign is rooted in a larger abolition movement that predates Twitter, the Twitter platform greatly facilitated the growth of the campaign in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. This study aims to understand the development of the campaign on Twitter in the first two weeks following the death of George Floyd. A sample constructed of top tweets each day in the two weeks following Floyd’s death was analyzed using thematic, discourse, and sentiment analysis techniques in order to trace the development and contours of the campaign. The results showed a vibrant debate of the issue with several variables, including thematic content, discursive strategy, and sentiment polarity playing a role in which tweets gained top status at a given time.