An article that I found published by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) entitled, The Video Revolution in Policing, does an effective job of touching on the main themes that I hope to address in my project. The piece written by Jay Stanley, which can be found here, grapples with the question of why our society has allowed the authorities to systematically mistreat large swaths of the population, seemingly unchecked. Stanley puts forth the idea of a “torturable class of people”, that is, a section of the population that has just come to accept discrimination and abuse, whom, “recognize that any protest would be futile”. These individuals are helpless, entirely at the mercy of police powers. He writes that this police authority complex stems from knowing that, “should victims (of wrongdoing) complain, they will experience the nightmare of not being believed“. The author subsequently argues, however, that the smartphone era is ushering in a period police reform, where errant police officers will be forced to be held accountable for their actions. Stanley cites a news story about an ongoing situation taking place in Minnesota regarding a discriminatory interaction with local police captured on an iPhone (find story here). He says that going forward, the actions of police will be increasingly photographed and videotaped, “abuse…will no longer be hidden, and the victims will be believed”. I am curious to see if statistics support this claim. Has the number of convictions of police wrongdoers increased? Are there less reported incidents of police brutality?
Going forward, I hope to gain greater historical perspective on the issue of police brutality in the United States, devoting considerable time to reading up on the infamous Rodney King beating, perhaps the most well know intersection between police brutality and citizen video recording.