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The National Police Association has issued a new campaign, “Stop Filming and Start Helping!’ They are asking the public to put their cell phones up and start helping during violent altercations between the public and civilians. Of course, this seems like a strange request given records have played a vital part in police brutality. Would law enforcement really expect citizens to stop recording altercations between them and the people they are called to serve and protect?
Today, people have seen countless videos showing police shootings, racial profiling, search and seizures, police brutality, and other forms of police misconduct. The vast majority of these videos were recorded by witnesses using their smartphones. And in the vast majority of these situations, when a cellphone video clearly shows that the police officers commit police misconduct, it can help the victim seek justice. Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to even wish for justice.
In the last decade, the smartphone has become a tool for witnessing police violence toward African Americans. From the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant to the 2020 killing of George Floyd, many reviewed the footage and talked to the people who captured it, to see how the accounts of racial injustice became clearer as the phones evolved.
Video has been changing Americans’ views toward police for more than 25 years. In 1991, four white Los Angeles police officers brutally beat Rodney King, an unarmed black man, as it was caught on video, sparking local riots and putting a spotlight on longstanding feelings of distrust toward law enforcement in minority communities. The video in particular has been credited with forcing cities to reconcile with — and at times, reform — how they police minority neighborhoods.
With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement over the past two years, this issue is once again in the national spotlight. Activists have pushed prosecutors across the country to take excessive use of force by police more seriously and, in some cases, file charges against cops. And in 2015, Gallup performed a study that found, public confidence in the police has generally declined — to levels not seen since the Rodney King riots.
Hence, the new police campaign, “Stop Filming and Start Helping” is laughable at best. Ironically, the National Police Association is actually asking that the public intervene when they see an officer being attacked by civilians instead of recording the incident and posting the footage on social media. According to the tenants of the campaign:
This year over 50,000 law enforcement officers have been assaulted while on duty, The vast number of these attacks were filmed and uploaded to social media in the pursuit of likes and attention.
This has many people scratching their heads wondering how they could have possibly missed the “vast majority” of these videos. Additionally, who could this plea be directed to? They could not possibly be asking Black civilians to intervene, because the risk would outweigh any reward. A black person could end up in handcuffs or even dead! Not all police are bad, of course, but who wants to chance it? Not Black or Brown America.
The National Police Association is asking civilians to intervene when they see an officer being attacked, instead of recording the incident and sharing the video across social media platforms. Truth is, with all the police brutality that exists, the National Police Association probably wants people to stop filming their dirty acts.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Black America: The National Police Association Issues New Campaign
Gallup: In U.S., Confidence in Police Lowest in 22 Years
Top Image Courtesy of Gayatri Malhotra’s Unsplash Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Twitter – @natpoliceassoc
Featured Image Courtesy of Gabe Pierce’s Unsplash Page – Creative Commons License