The Case(s) of the Missing Bodycam Footage

Protestor holding a sign saying Stop Killing Us

Presumably your humble spirit isn’t the only one whose frustration and anger is growing over police bodycam footage not being used for its intended purpose—that is, having evidence of what occurs during police encounters with the public.  Bodycam footage is also intended to serve as a deterrent to bad behavior on the part of the police, but if they don’t think it will ever see the light of day (the killing of Ronald Greene), or be edited to their advantage (the killing of Andrew Brown), why should they be concerned?  Laws have been put in place all over the country requiring police and other law enforcement officers to wear body cameras to help protect the public from potential abuse, but it appears much of the effort is going to waste.  

First we learn about a law in North Carolina whereby bodycam footage doesn’t have to be released to the public, or rather it can be released selectively, as was the case in the shooting of Andrew Brown.  On top of that, the local D.A. interpreted the footage to prove the officers’ innocence, despite what we all saw with our own eyes. (Sound familiar?) If you ignore what you see on the bodycam footage and interpret it as you see fit (inevitably the police were justified in their actions, no matter how horrendous), what real purpose does it serve?

Let’s not forget how some people have even chosen to ignore the bodycam footage of the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Even when the police are themselves the victims of unjustified violence, there’s no guarantee that people will be willing to acknowledge what the footage shows or act upon it.

Then we have the case of Ronald Greene near Monroe, Louisiana, when the horrible incriminating bodycam footage proving the state troopers were guilty of murder managed to disappear for two years.  The technology exists to prevent abuse at the hands of the police, but if it’s covered up by the same old corrupt legal system, it’s for naught.

Bodycam Footage Reveals the Racial Hatred that Still Exists in America.

In both cases—the killings of Andrew Brown and Ronald Greene—the bodycam footage reveals the horrible reality of the hatred still held for the “other,” and most especially Black men, in America.  We see nothing less than a posse of deputies speeding toward Andre Brown’s house like a SEAL team on a mission to kill the likes of Osama Bin Laden.  Three sadistic state troopers tortured Ronald Greene to death, apparently for no other reason than he hadn’t pulled over and didn’t get out of his car fast enough.  Even if he was trying to get away, is that justification to torture and kill him?  Given the examples we’ve seen recently, if you were a Black man driving alone late at night, would you want to stop for the police?  Is there any question that Ronald Greene was killed because he was Black and vulnerable, another case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?  Black people can’t go on living in fear they’re going to be killed whenever they see flashing red lights in their rearview mirror.  

Back in my day we didn’t have anything even close to bodycams—photography had only recently been invented and required the use of big stationary cameras, and moving pictures wouldn’t be available for almost another fifty years—and like so many other modern inventions you people have these days, it’s a real shame you don’t know how to put them to better use.

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