Truth is in the eye of the beholder or the camera lens?

The other day while I was scrolling on Facebook, I found an interesting video filmed by a lawyer who had the side job of an Uber driver. He happened to pick up a customer who the police were watching on suspicion of the distribution of drugs. Unfortunately, the police were giving the lawyer a hard time for recording their actions on his phone which he then politely told them that he had the constitutional right to do so.

Throughout chapter 12 of Media and Social Justice, the influence of media in modern day has been connected to justice in our democracy. Much of the chapter focused on the citizen surveillance of social power and people in authority positions. Many times in this situation, people are swayed by whatever the police or other authority figures orders them to do since our society has deemed them to be moral and right. But what happens when that police officer is corrupt and hurts innocent civilians? Can we be assured that our cultural institution is not going to cover the brutality to ensure ongoing faith in people holding authority? The answers to these questions are not only difficult to process, but they have been occurring in society as recent as a couple years to present day. Our society has learned that when the government and justice system are given the choice to punish the corrupt officer therefore upholding the rights of the citizens or to reprimand him with suspension for killing an innocent person, they fail our expectations and constitutional up holdings. The government then decides that placing body cameras on officers may solve all the problems of this complex issue.

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“West Midlands Police- Day 210” image by West Midlands Police (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The logic of body cameras is supposed to ease the fear of police brutality since they are being recorded therefore, there is no need for civilians to record for themselves. Although we could say that the government is giving it the “old college try”, presenting  the fearful population with a solution of government supplied police monitors leads us into even more questions without answers. Does the police officer have the ability to turn the camera off at anytime? Where does the video get turned in at the end of their shift? Does the government have control of each and every police officer’s video footage or does it stay in a local facility? Just because the camera footage is there, will our justice system fail to use it like it has done many times in the past? The multitude of questions without answers leaves citizens more at ease than ever before. The simplicity of the matter is that our government, a cultural establishment upheld with strict laws, cannot prevent their authoritative service men and women from harming innocent people. Media in this situation is like the voice of activists, it can be seen and heard, but there is no promise that anything will change. The display of police brutality has shown up more and more on social media which can be a helpful tool, but has limits on what the government will actually do about the situation. The proof is not in the eye of the beholder, but in the camera lens. #ActWrtMedia17

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