Some of the most disturbing incidents in recent months of police overreach have fallen under the radar of national media. In the local communities where they occur, drastically depleted reporting resources at local newspapers and televisions stations mean these incidents either go unreported or barely reported. In this media climate, using social media — crowdsourcing information and hard evidence of police abuse — can make a difference.
Look at what happened in New York City recently. As CNN reported last April: “A push for some social media love by the New York Police Department backfired badly, with Twitter users taking advantage of the invitation to mock the NYPD and other departments nationwide.
“The department … asked folks to post photos of themselves with its officers, using the hashtag #myNYPD. The response was swift and overwhelmingly negative as tweeters hijacked the hashtag to post photos they said showed police brutality or misconduct.”
Some of the examples of misconduct never before reported were eye-opening and deeply disturbing. They only made it into public awareness, albeit briefly, because they were crowdsourced.
Otherwise, our advice remains as we outlined last summer:
• You know what Gerald’s father taught him: “Think for yourself.”
• Dig below the TV reality news level. Find and understand the real news and its implications for your life.
• Keep your eye out for “military operations” conducted by police in your area under the guise of anti-terrorism preparations. When you see them, speak up.
• Use social media to share your story.
Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.