Citizen journalism challenges police and leads the media

Robert Mackey writes: The Oakland Police Department is investigating two incidents of apparent misconduct by officers during a protest last week, which were recorded by activists and posted online.

One of the brief clips, which shows a police officer firing a beanbag round directly at an activist with a camera in his hand, is shocking but similar in kind to other clips that have appeared to show the use of excessive force against protesters inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in recent weeks.

The other video, which records the last 57 seconds of a confrontation between a filmmaker and a police officer waiting to deploy on a quiet side street, shows no violence, but might say more about the potential for citizen journalism to change the power dynamic between citizens and the police.

The clip begins with the filmmaker, known as BLK PXLS, asking an officer to explain why he has covered the nameplate on his uniform with dark tape, in apparent violation of a section of the California penal code. After the officer refuses to reply, the filmmaker appeals to a superior officer who eventually pulls the tape from the officer’s uniform.

The video ends with a message from the filmmaker encouraging others to follow his example: “If you see cops not serving the people or participating in officer misconduct, film it! Hold them accountable!”

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