Rewind to me a year ago, a sophomore who just learned about police body cameras and is determined to prove to her classmates the positive changes through her next English assignment. Highlighting, gathering facts, making sure sources are reliable, and rewriting some sentences multiple times to get the best wording. Not only did I believe I would get a good grade, but I also truly believed in it despite the cons. Now fast forward back to the present day, I am logging out of Twitter again because I don’t want to run into any more clips of Philando Castile’s and Alton Sterling’s last seconds.
The results from the “Rialto Experiment” seemed promising when I first looked at them (the spark that started my trust in these cameras). Drops in use of force and complaints was enough for me at the time. However, if a jury can hear the recording of a father gasping “I can’t breathe!” while watching him be choked to the ground, but would still find no “reasonable cause” to indict the murderers, then the purpose isn’t being fulfilled.
I can’t tell if I want to cry or laugh at how naive I was to put so much faith into a camera. How could I be so blind? How didn’t I suspect before that the cops’ cameras would just so happen to fall off while on duty or would just so happen be off because they were just getting off duty? I should’ve known every excuse in the book would be used and reused.
And it’s not like the police are the only ones who have cameras. It’s common in the 21st century to see people of all ages have at least one digital camera in their hand (most likely a smartphone). However, visual evidence isn’t enough for White America. It makes sense to shoot a black father for selling CD’s, but not an actual killer who went into a church and stole nine lives (who was given a bulletproof vest). Apparently, it’s fine for a black woman to have her boyfriend taken away from her with five shots with their daughter in the backseat, but her recording the crime is a threat.
What part is not convincing? Would 136 more black lives lost be enough evidence or does it take a white man being treated like a black man to anger you?
Visual evidence is there to help cases, free the innocent, and save hundreds of lives—it’s what parts are being used, parts that aren’t being used, and how it’s being used altogether that is ruining it. Also, the people in charge of the evidence can make you suspicious. The police force is supposed to do their job, even when it means to admit that they were wrong along with making changes about it. However, these “models” and “heroes” of our country don’t like to own up to it, will try to get out of it, and/or try to hide it. There are officers who don’t believe they’ll be convicted before their colleagues assure them the same thing.
If the ones who are supposed to protect us aren’t, what are we supposed to do? It has to be up to us to make the changes. We can’t put down our cameras because it’s them who are being recorded (even if they don’t like it). We can’t go to them with the evidence so our only outlet is social media to bring awareness. White people who know the facts then have the audacity to tell us “stay in your lane”. They want us silent on an issue that doesn’t effect them. Understand this, if the help is only hurting when all you do is exist isn’t that wrong? It’s common sense to let the help know that they aren’t doing their job.