New Orleans There’s a very clear lesson emerging from all the news these days: keep your cellphone handy and learn how to press video record. It might not save your life, but it might bring you or someone else justice, and that’s still important. You can be a good neighbor by bringing in someone’s trash can or making a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy, but you can also be Johnny-on-the-spot when the stuff goes down and be the one who has the video on their cellphone that might make all of the difference in the world.
We see the evidence almost every day during police encounters. Someone with a quick cellphone video in Minneapolis bared the lie on the police report of the death and resistance of a black man on the streets there. The video made it clear that one cop’s knee was on the man’s neck, and he was telling them he couldn’t breathe. This sounds like a rerun doesn’t it? All four of these policemen were summarily fired. The investigation was quick and conclusive. What does it take for the police to learn that they need to do right or the public is increasingly aware and ready?
Videos are exposing the commonplace racism that African-Americans, especially black men, are experiencing regularly.
In a gated community in Oklahoma, a black delivery driver was blocked by two men from exiting after making his delivery. They claimed they were from the homeowners’ association, and demanded to know where he was going and how he got the gate code. He wouldn’t tell them the name of the customer, because it was private, despite their threat to call the police. He recorded them on Faeebook Live. He called the police himself.
In New York City’s Central Park an African-American, Harvard-educated birdwatcher asked a woman to leash her dog, as is required by the park. She refused, and be began recording the exchange. She threatened him, and then did call the police and falsely claimed she was being assaulted by an African-American man. Eventually, the police didn’t come, and she leashed and left with her dog. His sister posted the video and internet sleuths were able to identify the woman and her dog. Marks on the cocker spaniel, led to her being forced to return the dog to the rescue agency that had allowed her to have it. Finding that she was working for Franklin-Templeton investment group led to her being fired when even they couldn’t tolerate her racism.
Good manners may have died. The rouge police may be out of control. The rich, privileged, and entitled may think they own the world. There are many morals to this story, but one of them is that it makes sense to practice your cellphone skills. Practice your draw from pocket to hand. Make the route from your trigger finger to the video icon seamless even in the dark and without your glasses. A fast finger on the smartphone video recorder may end up being what saves you and our community. They “gotta learn.”
Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International