Personal Black Box? : We filmed the cops, people changed their minds
jdb10987 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 11 18:59:42 PDT 2020
We Filmed the Cops. People Changed Their Minds.
Videos of police abuse haven't stopped police brutality. But they've helped build a consensus for police reform.
PETER SUDERMAN | 6.10.2020 2:04 PM
In the years since the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked a wave of protests against abusive law enforcement, there has been a remarkable shift in public opinion about race and policing.
A Washington Post poll released this week found that 69 percent of Americans say Floyd's killing represents a systemic problem with policing, while just 29 percent say it's an isolated incident; six years ago, the Post reports, more than half of Americans saw police killings of unarmed black men as isolated events, with just 43 percent viewing them as part of a wider trend.
That shift has produced bipartisan support for activism against police violence. The Post poll found that 74 percent of Americans support recent protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Democrats were more likely to support the protests, but a majority of Republicans and independents backed them too. A Monmouth poll released last week found that 57 percent of Americans, including about half of white Americans, said police officers were generally more likely to treat black people unfairly than to mistreat white people, which The New York Times describes as a "drastic change" in public attitudes about racial disparities in policing.
As with nearly all instances of rapid social change, there are many factors at work. The Black Lives Matter movement has tirelessly emphasized racial disparities in law enforcement and made police reform an urgent national priority. Conservative activists have embraced criminal justice reforms that reject tough-on-crime policies. News coverage has become less deferential to police narratives. The political class has, in some instances, distanced itself from law enforcement. Social media has proven a potent tool for activists to organize and get out their message. None of these forces should be discounted.
But perhaps the simplest story one can tell is this: We filmed the cops, and people changed their minds.
For the last two decades, America has conducted an experiment in mass videography. Virtually everyone in the country now carries a camera in his or her pocket. In addition, our highways, streets, and sidewalks are watched by an array of public and private digital eyes, recording, if not everything, then much of the nation's public interactions—including with the police.
In the early days of mass camera adoption, cops resisted public attempts to film them, often attempting to shut down and even destroy videos of their work taken by citizens.
It's not hard to understand the resistance. Those ubiquitous cameras—on cellphones, on dashboards, in stores, on police uniforms—have repeatedly given the public deeply disturbing glimpses into how officers of the law do their jobs.
They showed us the horrific final moments of George Floyd and Eric Garner, six years apart, as they slowly asphyxiated from the force that police officers exerted on their bodies, each man gasping for breath, crying out for their lives, struggling to form the words, "I can't breathe."
They showed us the shots a South Carolina cop fired into Walter Scott's back as he fled on foot after being pulled over for a broken taillight. They showed us the 40 seconds during which Minnesota cafeteria worker Philando Castille was pulled over by a Minneapolis patrolman and then shot to death after disclosing that he was carrying a firearm. They showed us the arrest of Sandra Bland, a Texas woman pulled over for failing to use a turn signal, as an angry cop pointed a weapon at her and screamed, "I will light you up!" (A few days later, she was found in her jail cell, hanged to death.)
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