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From Rio to NYC: Can eyewitness video end impunity for police abuse?

Image above (from left): Priscila Neri and Madeleine Bair (WITNESS), Raull Santiago (Coletivo Papo Reto), Thenjiwe McHarris (Blackbird), Bina Ahmad (Legal Aid Society of New York), Kevin Moore (WeCopWatch) and Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!).  Photo by Giovana Schluter. 

On Monday, September 14th, the WITNESS Media Lab hosted a panel on filming police violence at Civic Hall in Manhattan. From Baltimore to Rio, killings and brutality at the hands of police are at the center of public discussion. In case after case, videos eyewitnesses footage is exposing systemic abuse to wider audiences and resulting in increased media attention, public debate, and in some cases, a measure of justice.

So for victims and communities most affected by police abuse, is video the best hope for truth and accountability?

The event explored these questions bringing together leaders from the U.S. and Brazil who have used videos to expose police brutality, change the national conversation, and catalyze justice, often at great personal risk.

 The evening was moderated by Amy Goodman, journalist and host of Democracy Now!, and hosted by WITNESS Media Lab program manager Madeleine Bair.

Panelists included:

  • Raull Santiago (@C_PapoReto) – Member of Papo Reto, a media collective from Rio de Janeiro
  • Bina Ahmad (@BinaAhmadEsq) – Public defender and social justice attorney with the Legal Aid Society of NYC
  • Kevin Moore (@WeCopWatch) – Baltimore WeCopWatch activist, filmed the arrest of Freddie Gray
  • Thenjiwe McHarris (@ThenjiweTM) – Activist and co-founder of Blackbird

This panel was organized as part of the WITNESS Media Lab’s latest project on police violence and video in the United States. The full project can be found here.

The livestream from the event is now available:


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