Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Power of Video

As reported in The New York Times this morning, almost all of the charges have been dropped against protesters arrested during last summer's Republican convention, and videos that contradict the statements of the arresting officers played a significant role in this.
Not answered by the report is the question of why so many people who had committed no crime were taken into custody. I think a full investigation into the situation is warranted; did the Republican mayor of New York order the overzealous policing? Did the officers' own politics play into it? What kind of pressure did the Republican Party put on the police department?
Of course, what I think and what will be done are worlds apart.
What I really wanted to say here is that this is another illustration of how important video can be in documenting abuses. We all know this from the Rodney King case, even though that horrifying video didn't convince the jury that acquitted the police officers in the case.
Just one recommendation: If you're videotaping something that could play into a legal case, make sure the date/time stamp is turned on. Lack of same was a problem with some of the convention-week videos, especially one that had been edited by the prosecutor's office in a way that made it appear one of those charged was out of control. Fortunately the original, uncut video surfaced, making it apparent that the charges were trumped-up.