Saturday, November 11, 2006


Of course, the big news here in LA is the videotaped beating of twenty-four-year-old William Cardenas, which was posted on the video sharing site YouTube. Viewers can watch here and see Cardenas struggling as he is restrained by officers; he says "I can't breathe" four times. As The Los Angeles Times reports in "Video, arrest report at odds," officers only report punching Cardenas twice despite digital evidence to the contrary.

Los Angeles has a bad history when it comes to police brutality and subsequent LAPD attempts at spin control. Some worry that YouTube's ability to disseminate images of police brutality rapidly will stimulate more Rodney King-style urban unrest. I tend to think that the Internet's ability to publicize messages that authorities may otherwise ignore will actually offer an outlet and opportunity for redress that could forestall frustrated expressions of retaliatory violence in the form of rioting and looting. I say that as someone who has had rocks thrown at my car, guns pointed at me by national guardsmen at my grocery store, and marching feet down my street at night during the Los Angeles riots. Certainly the pre-Internet era didn't handle these cases any better.

In connection with this story, it's also worth noting that the LAPD has a very snazzy website with video messages from Chief Bratton and a new LAPD blog.

Ironically, the existence of YouTube has sometimes encouraged the enforcement of intellectual property rules that contain and control the dissemination of such visual messages. For example, in the case of another well-publicized beating, that of truck driver Reginald Denny, copyright holders asserted their rights to take critical footage from the history of Los Angeles out of the public domain.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home