Yet the police, looters, and anarchists don’t seem to get it
Look up and around you. Video cameras are everywhere. Surveillance, security cameras, mobile phones, body cams, you name it, they are watching you. Yet, cops like those who killed George Floyd, don’t seem to understand that there is a permanent visual record. Whether it is video from bystanders recording you or your own body cam, it reveals the truth.
And it works both ways. In my town, Rochester, NY, when a mentally ill black man, Daniel Prude, died in police custody, the body cam video eventually came out (months later after a coverup) and our town exploded. The first big peaceful protest was attended by young male anarchists (all white) who were only there to create havoc. And when the crowd marched to a police station, they saw their opportunity and started torching and smashing cars. With tools they just happened to have with them.
Of course, there were hundreds of people recording their every move. And those videos went on social media and they were identified in hours. They bolted town but were caught within days. The same went for looters and other rioters later that night. I saw a video cam from a looted liquor store where every person was easily identifiable.
No one is exempt from video capture
My good friend Rachel, a local elected official was observing a peaceful protest march a few days later when the protesters were faced with a police line, fully armored and armed with pepper ball guns. She went to the front to show solidarity and the police fired directly at the bodies of the protestors (pepper balls are designed to be fired at the ground where they burst, releasing pepper gas). Rachel was hit in the face and arms. And injured. She is a well known local politician. And it was on video.
Video contributed to the diversity of the BLM response
This lack of awareness of ubiquitous recording is simply stupid, but it has its positive aspects and can be credited for the widespread outrage over police violence against blacks and minorities, among other things. When any of us can see this in action, even those of us who are white, we see what any person of color takes for granted. The protestors were a very diverse group, unlike earlier BLM protests, those prior to these videos being widely distributed.
The disturbing thing to me is that months later, with almost daily examples bombarding us, many police and other offenders either do not understand the impact of video, or, even more disturbing, they assume they are protected, even with graphic evidence.
Video is only a deterrent if it leads to convictions, whether it is for civil rights violations, crimes, or ‘Karen’ type racially-driven rage events. It is my hope that the constant recording and instant distribution will help both deter and capture those who believe they are above the law.
We are far past the Orwellian overtones
So, next time you are out and about, look up and around. You’ll see cameras everywhere. Think about the fact that you have one in your pocket or bag, and so does everyone else. Like it or not, we are far past stopping this constant surveillance, regardless of its Orwellian 1984 implications. But it has potential for positive outcomes and change in our society. It’s a new reality.
Update: As I write this, rioters are in the Capitol Building, and acting like there is no such thing as cameras, video, face recognition, and plenty of opportunities to identify them for future prosecution. There are literally hundreds of cameras in there. Of course they believe they will ‘win’ this, whatever winning is to these people.
Two days later: The domestic terrorists in the Capitol are now being identified and arrested one by one, many as a result of their own streaming videos. Admittedly, this was a pretty stupid group who made no attempt to hide their identities, instead acting like violently drunken frat boys. Frat boys (and girls) who will now face serious Federal felony charges, deservedly. But with five deaths, including one homicide, and many serious injuries, we can thank the video presence for bringing them to justice.