Cellphones and Streaming Media Capture Police Shooting of Black Men
Philando Castile was shot and killed by police. It took only minutes for the images of the aftermath of the shooting to be come real world news thanks to Facebook’s live streaming function. Welcome to the age of new, instant, media.
Diamond Reynolds captured the horrifying aftermath of the shooting using her cellphone as her boyfriend lie dying next to her. According to Reynolds Castile warned the officer he was in possession of a licensed firearm. “He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” cried Reynolds in the video.
In the video Castile can clearly be seen struggling to breath and bleeding profusely while the police officer continued to hold the gun on him.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana Alton Sterling another black man was shot and killed by police during a struggle. This too was recorded by smartphone camera.
According to witnesses Sterling was known as the “CD Man” and regularly sold CD’s and DVD’s outside the convenience store where he was shot. The store owner had given Sterling permission to do so.
In this incident there are actually two cellphone videos (Video 1, Video 2) that recorded the shooting while Sterling was on the ground wrestling with two police officers. In the video police officers are wrestling with Sterling when one yells “gun!” The second officer then removes his gun from its holster and eventually shoots Sterling several times. After the shooting the police can be seen removing the gun from Sterling’s pocket.
Never before in the history of broadcasting has such an events been seen so instantly.
Breaking It Down
Once during an interview I heard the rapper Tupac predict, rather matter-of -factly, that we will watch him live and die live on your television. Andy Warhol said “In the future we will all be famous for fifteen minutes.” In the age of technology and instant communications it seems to have all come true. And this changes everything.
We are witnessing the reality of being able to tell our story to the world from a tiny handheld device that no one could have dreamed of just twenty years ago. Technology has ripped away any possibility that a person could be misunderstood or doubted when they tell their story be it good or bad. We as a society are left now to only interpret what we have seen or heard. And this changes everything.
We no longer have the luxury of exchanging stories. “Your word against mine,” is a thing of the past. Black people have long complained of police brutality. What we are witnessing is not new just recorded and the story is being told .You are left to interpret the facts not the” he said she said” aftermath. And this changes everything.
We can thank technology for this moment. These shootings have ignited searing anger in society. We are seeing our lives and the lives of others recorded and streamed to anyone and all who want to see, hear and know. And this changes everything.
The killing of black men by the police is no longer a question of how of or if it happened a certain way. You can see for yourself what happened sometimes while it s happening. And this changes everything.
We are in a new era where the investigation into police actions, violence, use of force, and death are no longer focused on what happened. We saw what happened. No we must investigate why it happened. Why was another black man killed by the police? That is the question we must ask and answer. And that changes everything.
See also: App of the Week-Driving While Black