Recording police brutality: how one snap decision changed this town

Recording police brutality: how one snap decision changed this town
As Black Lives Matter protests have spread across America, more and more people have begun sharing clips of police violence online. It’s not just happening at protests, either: sometimes police violence is captured in everyday life.

On June 2nd, a traffic stop in Baytown, Texas turned violent when a couple friends began to question the arrest of a black man. One man recorded the clip and it went viral, but it didn’t end there. It set off a ripple effect across his life and the city of Baytown, Texas.

What happens when someone uses technology to glare back at police interactions? For Isaiah Benavides, it may have put him in harm’s way.

This video is part of a larger project at The Verge that looks at the power and consequences of filming police violence. Verge Science investigates what police body cameras don’t show you — check that out here:

Wasn’t the demonstration at the Capitol “mostly peaceful”?

The demonstration at the Capitol on January 6 was mostly peaceful, in the same sense that a spear is mostly not pointy. But the point of the spear is its salient feature. If you look at a long wooden pole without a point on either end, you call it a staff. With a point, you call it a spear.

Similarly, there may well have been 10,000 peaceful demonstrators, who were just out for a stroll on a brisk January afternoon. But that does not lessen in any way the guilt of the 500 or so highly motivated and highly organized insurrectionists, nor the guilt of those who wound them up and organized them.

Q: Wasn’t the demonstration at the Capitol “mostly peaceful”?

These are mess cooks, clerks, some (but not all) medical personnel and engineers, people who run the comms, people who provide the electric power and fresh water, people who handle the logistics, transportation and supply, even people who do the laundry. These people are frequently referred to as “fobbits” (they are put up and work in a well-protected Forward Operating Base, and rarely venture outside the wire), or “pogues” (POGs, persons other than grunts). They are deployed with the forces, are away from family and friends back home; they are in a risky location not completely out of harm’s way, and they share many if not all of the same hardships, and provide essential functions to the front line units, so they rate at least that much respect. But even over there, while there’s shooting going on, they have a relatively “peaceful” existence and are just doing their job of supporting the fighting troops or Marines.

By your “mostly peaceful” standard . . . any WAR that we get into is “mostly peaceful”!

“Mostly peaceful” doesn’t get it when ten percent of a group is getting destructive and violent (and only ten percent actually killing people and breaking things, with the other participants serving in support roles, is all that even the Army and Marines seem to think it takes to fight a war), and if that’s what you’re there to support, then you’re just as foul as the people there who are actually getting destructive and violent.

Certainly, like the rest of us, you learned back in high school and college, that when you’re at a party and things are starting to get a little too wild, it’s time to go home — stick around and you’re going to end up getting into trouble, right along with a lot of people there who you just know, from the way things are going, are going to get into trouble later in the evening. If you were in that crowd in Washington on January 6th, why didn’t you think of it on that day?

And if you were too much a part of that crowd . . . Donald Trump is not going to help you out of this one. Quite the contrary, he’s going down with you.

And that’s just the way it should be.

The Constitution of the United States is the fundamental law that makes our country what it is. It embodies the design that makes the nation we know and love to function in ways we count on it to work. It is the basic agreement that we all agree, whatever our other differences, to go by. If you take up arms against the constitutional order of the United States as those people did on January 6, if you attempt the use of force to prevent its functioning as provided in the document, or if you adhere to and support and give aid and comfort to those who do, you become an enemy of my country.

And we have a problem.


I have written on this subject several times, not just about the Capitol “event” but also about BLM supported protests.

In each demonstration there is a range of people. Many demonstrations are peaceful throughout because the participants have peaceful intentions. I know people disagree, but the actual data on BLM protests show that the protests were largely peaceful. There were protests that were marred by violence, and after investigation the facts often showed that the violence was the result of a small group of anarchists and of white supremacists who wanted to counter the protests. Thus, although BLM gets the blame in certain quarters, it often is not at fault.

Similarly ,in the Capitol demonstration there was a range of participants. A significant number of the participants were not involved in violent behavior. It is true that the reason for the demonstration was a false premise, that the election was stolen, but that does not alter the fact that many people did not want to, nor did they, participate in the trespass and violence. There was, however, a gathering of participants, generally white supremacists, Qanon, and similar groups, who actively planned and contemplated a violent trespass and takeover of the Capitol. How many has not yet been completely determined, but the nature of the planned activity, the setting, and the results set this event apart, for obvious reasons. (This is why the DOJ both during the Trump administration and now in the Biden administration believe that the white supremacist and related movements pose the greatest threat of domestic violence. So in this instance the entire demonstration catches the blame. One should note, however, that this analysis does not necessarily absolve those who stoked the passions of the demonstrators, both before and the day of the demonstration. That remains to be analyzed when the investigations are concluded. That is why a thorough investigation needs to be conducted.


Sure, except for the pipe bombs and the bear spray and the hanging gallows and the destroyed property and the rioting and the assault on police officers and the feces smeared on walls and the zip ties and the white supremacists wearing the Camp Auschwitz stuff and the confederate flag and the calls to execute Pence and members of Congress , it was totally peaceful.

I’m sure I’m missing some details here but seriously, in what universe was that “mostly peaceful?”




In a Small Town, a Battle for Racial Justice Confronts a Bloody Past and an Uncertain Future

In a small NC town, a battle for racial justice confronts bloody past and uncertain future

One afternoon in mid-July, hundreds of people gathered around a stage in front of the historic gray stone courthouse at the heart of the small town of Graham, North Carolina. They were listening to a song of protest.

“We don’t want to die,” a local musician sang out to the diverse crowd.

The group wanted the removal of a marble statue of a Confederate soldier that had stood watch over the town square since white citizens of Alamance County erected it in 1914. But protesters in this central North Carolina county seat were seeking much more.

“We don’t want to die no more,” the man belted out again.

Across the street from the monument, dozens of people, most of them white, lined the manicured edge of a small park. They waved Confederate battle flags. Some wore T-shirts purchased at a local motorcycle shop that sells patches with Nazi symbols and KKK “life member” insignia. The shirts bore a picture of the town’s Johnny Reb statue with the words “I ain’t coming down.”

A brass bell that once tolled from the roof of the original courthouse, built before the Civil War and demolished in the 1920s, sat at the center of the park. A man in the crowd had seized control of it, heaving its clapper over and over against the bell’s lip to drown out the protesters.

The singer and his audience did their best to ignore the noise. “We don’t want to die no more,” he sang out again. The bell ringer looked around. Nobody, including nearby law enforcement officers, tried to stop him. He picked up his pace. The singer continued, “That’s why we on a riot.”