April V. Taylor
As America continues to look like a hypocrite to the world for how fundamentally corrupt and flawed its worldview is when compared with the suffering caused by the racism and injustice of the country’s criminal justice systems, most Americans do not realize that the power to help end police brutality and killings is right in the palm of their hands. The ability of any bystander or victim to record events on their cellphones is an often overlooked component of holding abusive police accountable.
The never ending stream of stories of those killed by police has the entire country on edge with many feeling as though the country is reaching a boiling point. When one looks back at American history, black people have repeatedly been abused and killed by police with many of the worst race riots in history resulting from police abuse that fanned the flames of racial tension. Rather than sitting back and waiting for the Justice Department to complete their endless investigations that now amount to more incidences of illegal police misconduct that at any point in history, America’s must exercise their own ability to protect each other and hold police accountable by using cellphone cameras to record police.
As a recent article by the Atlanta BlackStar points out, “We all need to become vigilante videographers, alerting every officer in the country to the probability that if he or she engages in abuse, somebody is going to be filming it…It doesn’t have to look like it was directed by Spike Lee. It doesn’t even have to be in focus. As long as the officer’s actions are clear.”
Some may worry about police who challenge a citizen’s legal right to film police, but the ACLU points out that, “Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.” The ACLU also points out that police officers are not legally allowed to confiscate footage or equipment or demand to view digital information that has been collected on them.