#BBCtrending: 'Riot Tips': the online reaction to the Ferguson unrest

Police in riot gear walk past a burning building in Ferguson, Missouri Image copyright EPA

As the US town of Ferguson saw rioting in the streets, a sarcastic "Ferguson Riot Tips" hashtag on Twitter was started.

Search with #FergusonRiotTips, and you'll find very few genuine pointers for rioters among the online posts from those looking on through their phones and laptops and televisions.

"If you're gonna smash windows and throw rocks at police, expect tear gas in return," a Tea-Party-supporting user named Bossy Brat tweeted from Texas. "Protestors raiding #McDonalds ...I would have gone for at least an #OliveGarden but to each their own," tweeted Hannah in Nashville.

Image copyright Ruth Alexander-NBH

The United State's racial divide - the tension behind the Michael Brown story - is also part of the discussion.

"Imagine what Chicago would look like if blacks rioted everytime a black killed a black say from gang violence," tweeted Sean Jenks from Colorado.

"When have u ever seen white people destroy their own community because they were upset with something black ppl did?!" tweets AJ in San Antonio.

"When you're a white group protesting the President, it's "citizenship". A black group protesting racism is a "mob"", observes a blogger in Washington, Charles Clymer.

Some have accused people posting comments under this hashtag of racism. One tweeter advised rioters to "pull your pants up so you don't trip and drop your [state benefits] card". "OH WOW!!!!" comes the response from another, a black woman in Dallas, who's showing her support for the protesters by retweeting comments like "no justice for Mike Brown".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A protester runs in front of a burning business during rioting on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein)

But still others are using the hashtag to try to bring people together. Several hundred people shared a quotation by Martin Luther King, which begins "Nonviolence is the answer".

And one of the most shared online comments during the unrest - 38,000 tweets and counting - was first posted by a boy in Virginia: "Not all cops r bad Not all black ppl r criminals Not all white people r racist. Stop labeling. It's 2014 let's get equal".

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending