The Rise of YouTube and Camera Phone Videos to Curtail Alleged Police Brutality!

With the rise of technology allowing people to record videos from their phones and then upload them to the Internet minutes later, the general public has experienced a transformation of power in recent years.

Once reserved to the media, average citizens are increasingly becoming a "watchdog" for alleged instances of abuse and injustice. In recent months, the camera phone and YouTube generation has exposed the world to some quite shocking moments.

  • There was the much-publicized incident in September at the University of Florida in which student Andrew Meyer was Tasered by campus police during a question-and-answer section with former Presidential hopeful, John Kerry.
  • In a similar vein, a UCLA student used a cell phone to record campus security Tasering an Iranian-American student last year after he refused to show his identification or stand at the request of the officers.
  • Back in March, a neighbor grabbed his camera and began recording what he felt was excessive force used by Colorado police officers handling a man who was involved in an argument with his girlfriend.

As these few examples reveal, many user-generated videos have seemed to depict alleged instances of police brutality that end in personal injury of some kind. With that said, many issues have developed with this new power of everyday people to simply take out their phones and begin to record potentially controversial moments.

To begin with, some have wondered whether police brutality is on the rise or just now being exposed. Others have wondered whether the average citizen's ability to record events with relative ease has simply resulted in more bogus claims or a more sensitive public. In other words, what may be considered police brutality to one man may not be to another. Furthermore, could this ability to record and upload result in an eventual abuse of power by everyday people that is similar to the abuses of power often seen on their videos?

While there are still issues to be resolved when it comes to interpreting YouTube and camera phone voices, the importance of these devices should not be discounted. In just one moment, the average man or woman walking down the street could witness something, record it and ultimately play an integral role in determining whether those meant to protect are truly doing so or actually failing to do their jobs the right way.

Here's a perfect example from a North Star Writers Group story. As police arrested anti-war protestors at an event this year, a man picked up his camera and began recording the arrests. When zooming in on the arrests, the man's video revealed that the officers did not properly read a couple of women their Miranda Rights.

Ultimately, it appears that user-generated videos from everyday people could become powerful pieces of evidence in criminal defense cases and personal injury lawsuits. For the meantime, these devices have put police departments and other figures in the spotlight, making their practices susceptible to much scrutiny and revision. In some regards, these figures have to become more and more aware of the fact that their actions may be recorded by some bystander in the crowd.

Hopefully, such videos can be used to find a harmonious balance between those with power acting accordingly to the law and those with cameras in hand not becoming a part of an accusatory society. Because if used the right way, these videos could become a beacon for positive change on many levels!


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