The Whole World is Watching
By Hector Villagra
Another man was dead, another man who could not challenge the police report on how he died. The official report in this case said North Charleston, S.C. Police Officer Michael T. Slager shot and killed Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, after Scott attempted to take the officer’s Taser and use it on him.
But a bystander’s video captured the deeply disturbing incident and showed that report to be a blatant fabrication. The whole world has now seen Slager firing eight times at Scott’s back after he began running away. Slager has been charged with murder, but his false story would have gone unchallenged had it not been for the video.
Video images have clearly become a powerful tool in documenting encounters between the public and police. The ACLU of California wants to make it more likely that even more individuals will use their phones to record those incidents, enabling the public to hold officers accountable when they cross the line.
That’s why the ACLU of California is proud to announce the release of Mobile Justice CA, a new smartphone app that allows users to effectively record law enforcement officers. Once the phone stops recording, the app quickly uploads a copy of the video to the local ACLU office. So it doesn’t matter what the officer or anyone does with the phone or to the recording on the phone because the video will already have been transmitted.
The ACLU wants law enforcement to know that the whole world could be watching, just as it was at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. Demonstrators there repeatedly chanted, “The whole world is watching,” as Chicago police brutally broke up their protest. The whole world could watch because there was video of police beating demonstrators with clubs and spraying them with gas.
Chicago became the moment when that chant was seared into the national consciousness. Since then it has become a rallying cry for demonstrators, including those protesting growing economic inequality at Occupy Wall Street in 2011. Students at the University of California at Davis, demonstrating in support of the Occupy movement, also took up the chant as police wantonly pepper sprayed a line of seated, peaceful demonstrators.
The chant is intended to shame and change those who would abuse their power with the threat that their actions will be exposed and judged. Of course, this isn’t always true. Though millions watched the scenes from outside the convention hall on television, Chicago police escaped any consequences for what has been called a “police riot.” But those television images left an indelible imprint on those who saw the footage.
The world has changed a lot since then. The pool of available images has been expanded exponentially beyond what television cameras capture to those recorded on cell phones and disseminated immediately and vividly on social media. The video of the UC Davis pepper spraying quickly went viral and sparked criticism and outrage around the globe. Thanks to the video, the University of California paid out nearly $1 million in damages to the students who were sprayed, and the officer lost his job.
Mobile Justice CA comes at a time when the public is demanding increased transparency and accountability. But law enforcement has been slow to respond. While transparency and accountability are not guaranteed, some departments have begun to equip their officers with body cameras. This reform promises to bring greater clarity to controversial encounters that often end with the only person who can dispute officers’ accounts dead.
But body cameras are only one tool, and some departments seem intent on using them in ways that don’t further accountability and transparency. Los Angeles police officers wearing body cameras were among those who fatally shot a man on skid row in March. The department has refused to release the video, saying it will release it only when it is part of a criminal or civil case. Some police groups have recommended legislation that would exempt all police body camera footage from public records requests — even footage of police shootings.
Likewise, departments that give officers wide discretion to decide when to record or fail to provide sanctions for not using the cameras frustrate the cameras’ purpose. Last year an Albuquerque, N.M. police officer shot Mary Hawkes, an unarmed 19 year old, in the back and killed her. Though equipped with a body camera, the officer didn’t turn his camera on and record the shooting. He was later disciplined for failing to use his camera, but only after he had failed to turn it on five different times.
The ACLU’s Mobile Justice CA app puts the power to ensure transparency in the hands of the people. With so many people carrying cell phones with cameras, the whole world could be watching with just a touch of the phone’s screen.
And that simple touch could be what makes the difference in holding law enforcement accountable. Police body cams may prove to be effective tools in curbing police abuse. But bystanders’ cameras can be more powerful. Those images are not subject to police control, and like the Scott shooting, the footage they capture is immediately available for the whole world to see.
Villagra is executive director at the ACLU of Southern California. Follow OHectorV
By Eldon James Brown (The All Star Activist)
I’ve been dreading writing this post for such a long time now. I wanted so bad to believe in you. I wanted to believe that there were enough good ones to overtake the bad. I don’t want to add fuel to the fire but I just can’t hold back any longer. Both good cops and bad cops have ultimately failed in their motto to “serve and protect”, an inscription you don’t even see on their cars anymore.
It’s as simple as this. Police departments across the nation have been infiltrated by federally sanctioned Gang Stalkers for at least five decades now. You can replace the words “Gang Stalkers” for “agents” or “federalized” if you like, but the bottom line is that police no longer have the public as priority and have not for quite awhile. They are answering to corrupted unseen handlers, brass and other seditious influences.
Funny thing is, most cops know exactly what has happened to them. That statement then begs the question, “well if you knew you were working for corrupted superiors or agents, then at some point you agreed with it. Why didn’t you protest or quit?” You’ve aided and abetted our destroyers. Shame on you.
The answers you would get from any cop would be well reasoned I’m sure but again, it simply boils down to this;
At some point they sold out and either began preying on the public, or looked the other way. Cared more about themselves than those they were supposed to care for.
Then of course, there are the deviants, psychos and misfits that can’t control themselves and see having a badge as the perfect cover for their sick indulgences.
In my humble opinion, if you were a “good cop” and didn’t agree with what other bad cops were doing, you should have openly protested, arrested them and or quit the job. Thats what Serpico did.
Yes, you may have been killed. Yes, you would have been ostracized by some or by all, but look at the situation you have now. Now the public has had enough and it appears a critical mass is growing.
I know that the global elites have engineered this civil revolt but they wouldn’t have been able to do it without significant officer complicity. Where are you without the good will of the people? In a country called America? I think not.
I hope all you cops out there feel pretty shitty about what is happening now because I sure do. Fuck you guys and girls in blue, for the sake of saving your own asses you’ve abdicated your duty and have facilitated our nation falling to this bullshit. It isn’t completely your fault but you played your part. Damn right I’m mad.
Am I going to participate in this fools errand of civil war? Absolutely not, another witless move that will only aid our captors. My God instructs me to bless those that curse you, be good to those that do evil to you, pray for those who persecute you. I’m a good soldier so I’m trying to do what I’m told, but I’ve experienced enough of your harassment’s and unjust injuries to warrant the profanities above. Unlike you, I didn’t have support to fend off your attacks, nor resources nor money to put myself back together again. I had to suffer all of the losses, injuries, both physical and psychological, that came from you and your shithead Gang Stalker armies alone, much like Romney Wordsworth. When I tried to report the crime, you further victimized me with slander, actually questioning my sanity. I’m still suffering even now to this very day. Thus, we have the conditions present so far. FUBAR.
All that energy and tax payer money wasted, surveilling people like me who have never killed anyone nor very seriously injured them. Some fuckhead Gang Stalker credo that asserts certain people don’t have the right to live, that they can be used and abused with impunity, that’s what too many of you did instead of your actual job descriptions. You idiots are surprised now that the chickens have finally come home to roost? History could have informed you. Stupid, illegal, immoral and cowardly.
I have real bravery, I have true integrity. I’m not hiding behind a badge with a vest and a gun, an army backing me up, yet I still try to do the right thing every day. When you attack me, I get hurt. When you target me, I lose opportunities and money. That however, has always been the goal in your delusional purge of those innocent people whom you deem to be “undesirables”, hasn’t it? To destroy ordinary every day people who are marked unfit by your Satanic handlers and their morals. Who’s undesirable now?
There are indeed innocents among you and I feel sorry for them, truly I do. I’ve met a few before however, you only have yourselves to blame. You should have taken care of your own backyards first before trying to tend the public’s. How can you be respected when you dish it out to us the public then look the other way when one of your own commits crimes?
I don’t want this to happen and I am grieving for my country right now. Everywhere I go just makes me sad and melancholy. America, I barely knew her and now it would seem that I never will again. You assholes disgust me. Servants and patriots? More like saboteurs and traitors.
Have fun with all the fruits of your labors, I’ll definitely be sitting this one out, a look of pain mixed with disgust on my face. I did all that I could do and have paid a heavy price, I want no parts of the ensuing stupid tragedy apparent.
Stop unjustified police shootings in four simple steps;
1) Prohibit police departments from investigating themselves and establish independent citizen review boards comprised of public members chosen at random from every group, rotated regularly, limited to one term of service.
2) Take prosecutorial discretion away from District Attorneys. When it has been determined that enough probable cause exists to justify filing criminal charges, those criminal charges must be filed. As it stands now, District Attorneys are loath to bite the hand that feeds them. Without police cooperation, a DA’s career goes nowhere. Biggest conflict of interest I know of.
3) Make the Officer personally liable for their own actions, not the city or the taxpayer. If a cop kills or injures someone, let the family sue that officer personally in court. As it is now, there is no risk for bad behavior because they have immunity, the money doesn’t come out of their own pockets. The homeowners and businesses of that city pay instead.
4) Require all cops that interact with the public to wear body cameras. Require that the audio and video from those cameras be curated in perpetuity by a separate and impartial entity not connected to the department nor the city in any way. Take control of the body cameras out of the hands of the individual officers, as of now they can just turn them off when about to do something dirty.
Institute these steps as policy across the nation and you will see an end to brutality and misconduct, or at the very least a dramatic reduction. Simple, but not easy to accomplish. Police unions will fight to the death and they wield a formidable amount of political power. It can be done however, if enough people care and stand up.
If you really want to get to the heart of the matter, make community policing just that. Require that every qualified person receive academy training and then rotate the responsibility among every citizen. Training could start in high school. Everyone is a cop then. Israel and Switzerland do it, the model is proven.