Camera Shy

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd died while being arrested by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The arresting officers were eventually prosecuted and found guilty based on photo and video evidence shot by witnesses with smartphones.

Despite direct video evidence clearly showing the use of unreasonable force, including pleas for mercy by Mr. Floyd and bystanders, lack of accountability by police ignited riots in Minneapolis and sparked the worldwide #BlackLivesMatter movement. George Floyd’s murder and subsequent guilty verdicts for the officers, plus the awakening of society to the burden of being black in America are the only good things to emerge from this senseless tragedy.

Thank God for some quick-thinking citizens with smartphones and social media.

You would think…

George Floyd and #BLM focused attention on the many systemic problems facing police forces across the US causing some to even call for the de-funding of local departments. You’d think that government and police would have a vested interest in exposing problems like racism within their ranks so they could do something to fix it.

I believe they should be encouraging citizen smartphone journaling of crimes committed by both criminals and police. Whether you’re a corporate whistleblower or witness to a crime, you should be free to collect evidence and expose any wrongdoing without facing legal or physical consequences.  

This is how wrongs are righted and how progress is made.

You take 2 steps forward, then 3 steps back

Unless of course you’re in Arizona. As reported on NPR recently, A new Arizona law makes it illegal to film within 8 feet of police. Yup, you read that right, it’s now illegal to film cops beating the crap out of someone in Arizona. Is it just me or is this completely crazy? I had to read the headline twice just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

How does a future George Floyd incident in Arizona ever have a chance of being investigated, let alone a police officer being convicted if witnesses are not allowed to film? It was expressly the citizen videos taken of the death of George Floyd that led to officer convictions. Arizona’s answer is to take the pressure off police to reform by trampling on the rights and freedoms of its citizens.

For years I’ve said the Internet and social media are broken. But I’ll admit they’re wonderful venues for exposing injustice and corruption. Sadly, Arizona wants to make the wrongs right by ensuring no one witnesses them in the first place.