When I learned of the, now infamous, murder of Walter Scott, my immediate reaction was, "Damn. Here we go again." Another life stolen. Another family torn apart. Another statistic added to the epidemic of #Every28Hours. The fact that this particular murder was caught on film and widely distributed provided no assurance that justice would be served. Oscar Grant taught us that. Eric Garner taught us that. That murderers with badges go unpunished, even in the wake of video evidence.
But this time was different. Not dissimilar in the level of egregiousness, but in the public's reaction to it. From the Charleston PD's about-face to Sean Hannity's rare display of rationality, people roundly cringed when they saw the coward Michael Slager shoot a fleeing man in the back. And thanks - in no small part - to a pedestrian and a smartphone, an arrest has been made, charges have been filed and bail has been denied. Though it remains to be seen if justice will be served, the process would never have gotten this far absent that video footage.
Another useful byproduct of filming the police is that these problems can no longer (honestly) be denied. Whether these mercenaries get prosecuted or not, the unforgiving nightmare of Black men being executed is smacking us all square in the face - live via smartphone, no less. So those privileged enough to not be living the ongoing African Holocaust, can at least bear witness to a taste of it. Not that filming the police will bring an end to State terror – it won’t – but it definitely does provide another piece of critical evidence. Walter Scott is proof that such evidence can make a crucial difference in human relations – the difference between ignorance & apathy or indignation & accountability.