Viewers know who’s wrong in TikTok’s latest court fight. Darrell Brooks, who is accused of killing six people by driving into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin last November, has dominated the platform all month as recordings of his odd courtroom behavior garner hundreds of millions of views.
After Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard, TikTok users were more interested in court cases. Before Heard took the stand, millions of Depp fans used #justiceforjohnnydepp to declare him the winner with memes and ridicule. Since May’s trial, Heard’s supporters have pushed back and creators have reevaluated the poisonous fandom.
Brooks’ trial isn’t disputed. Instead, Brooks, who declined his right to an attorney and is defending himself, has drawn attention with his illogical and disruptive questioning. Other videos shocked by his disrespect towards Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow, who is presiding in the case.
Brooks, who faces 76 felony charges, stated in court that he is a sovereign citizen, a conspiracy theorist movement that erroneously claims they are exempt from US law and government jurisdiction. He has repeatedly interrupted Judge Dorow, who has called for recesses, refused to answer his name, made a fort out of boxes on his desk, and spoken over the state’s attorneys. Legal experts told Insider Brooks may try to get a mistrial.
On Tuesday, closing arguments concluded and jury deliberations began in the October 3 trial. In his closing argument, Brooks said the vehicle malfunctioned. Prosecutors countered that he hit 68 individuals.
Local and global news stations have covered some of the trial, but TikTok has given it far more attention. Brooks looking at Judge Dorow, glaring, and being moved to a different courtroom have been extensively shared, often garnering hundreds of thousands of views.
Brooks’ trial seems like a show, unlike Depp vs. Heard’s TikTok content.
The trial’s “trainwreck” is unmissable.
Ken, who lives in Waukesha and has 49,000 followers on TikTok as The Official Ken, told Insider he followed the case from the start because his niece attended the parade. He saw the story on his local news stations, but he never imagined it would become an online circus.
TikTok commentators seem certain of Brooks’ guilt and the verdict.
“Everything’s a terrible tragedy, but it was pretty open-shut,” Ken remarked. “He had lawyers and didn’t speak during his early hearings. It was obvious they had the correct guy.”
Ken expected the trial to be quick and uninteresting because the outcome was apparent. Brooks’ action was unexpected, and his shift to sovereign citizen defense and self-representation has garnered so much attention.
“There’s no question that he’s guilty,” Ken stated. The state has presented a mountain of evidence against Brooks, including footage showing his red Ford Escape plowing into paraders (the same car in one of Brooks’ music videos), many eyewitnesses, and DNA from the site.
“It’s like, what is this person doing?” Ken stated. “It’s a trainwreck, and people can’t look away.”
When Brooks’ trial began, Sarah Pitkins’ 312,000 TikTok followers saw it on her For You page. For three weeks, accounts big and small have posted daily roundups and thoughts about the trial.
Since discovering it, Pitkins has been “hooked” and has posted daily updates and clips. She wanted to cover the trial because Brooks’ behavior made her upset and she couldn’t fathom how painful it was for the parade victims’ families.
“Seeing his entitlement and manipulating methods got me upset,” she stated. “I wanted to speak up about his odd and wrong behavior.”
Judge Jennifer R. Dorow’s patience is universally lauded.
Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel/AP, Pool
Traditional news doesn’t foster debate as TikTok does.
Pitkins explained why TikTok is so popular. One draw is the crime’s devastation. Pitkins noted Brooks’ “off the wall” actions and defense.
“Play the clip and everyone gets the point of like, this man is completely off the tracks,” she remarked. Pitkins remembered Brooks “screaming and rushing around the courtroom” without a shirt.
Pitkins said TikTok makes the case available to everyone and allows for dialogue in a manner that television coverage of a trial cannot.
Pitkins remarked, “You can read comments and reply.” “That’s where you develop community and chat to people around the world about something. That’s its main appeal.”
Judge Dorow’s cool handling of Brooks’ actions and ability to continue the trial have also garnered supporters. Ken said that if Dorow runs for public office, he’ll support her.
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