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For many New Yorkers, this past week has been a busy and devastating one. Early on Tuesday morning, as many of the city’s residents were on their way to work, someone opened fire on a subway train, injuring at least 23 people. In the hours that followed, everyone anxiously awaited the identification and detention of the person or persons responsible. That evening, the NYPD identified a “Person of Interest” and on Wednesday afternoon arrested Frank R. James in the East Village. Then a hero appeared: Zak Tahhan, a 21-year-old man from Syria, who stepped forward to say that he was the one who pointed James to the police.
Shortly after James’s arrest, Tahhan held an impromptu press conference on the sidewalk, telling reporters, “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the guy, we need to get him,’ before he stopped a police car and pointed at her. the suspect came out. Tahhan and the video interviews he gave on his smartphone soon appeared on all social networks, especially on Twitter. After 30+ hours of uncertainty and news about CCTV camera failure at the scene of the shooting, the Internet found a hero. “This *IS* the real heart of New York” tweeted one. “Let it be known that this man, who sold me Juul capsules many times, was more effective in capturing the Brooklyn shooter than the entire NYPD!” wrote another. Soon enough #Thank youZach was in trend.
It was one of those moments where the very format of social media allowed people to extol someone when they needed a hero the most. Despite the attention to Tahhan, it remains unclear whose clue actually led to James’s arrest – two other citizens. claim to have played a role, and he may have announced himself – but even so, after a day and a half of uncertainty, most people seemed excited about the possibility of believing in humanity again. Often beingthe protagonist“this is bad – remember Bean dad? — but for a while on Wednesday, Tahhan was the main character, to whom the birds of Twitter joyfully flock.
In a way, Tahhan’s newfound fame has turned the Brooklyn subway shooting into a story about two internets. The Internet is actually a multiverse, but for the sake of that argument, let’s stick with these two: on the one hand, you have James, who, prior to his arrest, reportedly published a number of fanatical YouTube videos. On the other hand, you have Tahkhan, who became a hero because social media allowed people to share his story in a way that traditional NYPD press conferences couldn’t. The Internet can be full of hateful rhetoric; it can also be a place where people will I will remind you, as one Twitter user did: “We mention Islam at every opportunity when it is associated with a negative event. How about mentioning this when it comes to a Muslim hero who helped a valuable American city become a little safer?” (In one video, Tahhan mentioned that he fasted during Ramadan.)
At the time of this writing, James is facing federal terrorism charges. At least 23 people were injured in the shooting on Tuesday morning, but miraculously none of them died. In a way, New York once wrote was spared this week. In addition, thanks to Tahkhan, the city managed to glorify its local heroes on Twitter, while Elon Musk tried to buy it from under them.
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