Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Why filming police violence has done nothing to stop it

Because the police don’t care if someone is filming them if the wider apparatus of the state is backing them up. Why does anyone think Derek Chauvin choked George Floyd to death knowing full well he was being filmed the whole time? Because he thought the department, prosecutor’s office, and the union would back him up. Unluckily for Derek, the combination of the pandemic, the depression, months of house arrest, the Ahmaud Arbery shooting, the Breonna Taylor shooting, canceled sports and concerts, closed clubs and a lack of summer parties caught up with him.

By Ethan Zuckerman

The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers was captured on video, not once but half a dozen times. As we try to understand why a police officer continued compressing a man’s neck and spine for minutes after he’d lost consciousness, we have footage from security cameras at Cup Foods, where Floyd allegedly paid for cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. As we wrestle with the sight of three officers standing by as their colleague killed Floyd, we have footage from the cell phones of witnesses who begged the officers to let Floyd off the ground. In the murder trial of Officer Derek Chauvin, who was patrolling despite 17 civilian complaints against him and previous involvement in two shootings of suspects, his defense may hinge on video from the body cameras he and other officers were wearing.

None of these videos saved George Floyd’s life, and it is possible that none of them will convict his murderer.


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