In this article, we are interested in the role digital memes in the form of pictures play in the framing of public discourses about police injustice and what it is that makes memes successful in this process. For this purpose, we narrate the story of one such meme: the ‘pepper-spray cop’. In our analysis, we link the creation and spread of the meme to the democratization of online activism and the subversive acts of hierarchical sousveillance. Based on our findings, we discuss features of the meme and the process linked to its initiation, rapid spread and disappearance as vital for the success of visual memes in the context of online protests.

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New Media & Society
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Bayerl, S., & Stoynov, L. (2014). Revenge by photoshop: Memefying police acts in the public dialogue about injustice. New Media & Society, 18(6), 1006–1026. doi:10.1177/1461444814554747