Displaying in a variety of platforms – from Facebook to WeChat, social media has grown into a news powerhouse in today’s technology dominated world. It has allowed citizens to share their tragic experiences like never before, and empowered them to hold the powerful, such as the police, accountable.
Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old man who sold CDs and DVDs in Louisiana, was killed by the police on July 5. A video footage from a bystander captured police officers wrestling him to the ground. Suddenly two shots were heard and Sterling was seen sprawled on his back with a large blood stain on his chest.
Just two days after Sterling was shot dead by the police, another Black man died brutally after being shot by a police officer in Minnesota. The shocking and disturbing incident was streamed live on Facebook by his girlfriend.
“Stay with me," says the girlfriend, as she turns the phone to the black man slumped in the driver's seat with a blood splattered chest. A police officer is seen pointing a gun through the driver's window, while she continues narrating the shocking scene.
“All he was trying to do was to produce his licence and registration,” the girlfriend said in her calm voice as she offered a vivid narrative of the incident in the video footage.
Both video footages that painted a perfect picture of police officers’ racist killings in the US has gone viral on the internet through social media, and by the next morning, over 2.5 million people had watched the stream as it appeared online through a variety of different platforms.
The videos sparked outrage across the US, prompting the Governor of Minnesota to say there was every indication that the police conduct was "way in excess”.
The disturbing images sent the black community on edge. During a black community’s protest against the police shooting – Black Lives Matters, a premeditated massacre took place as deadly gun fire erupted in Dallas that saw five officers killed and seven wounded in an ambush. Last week, another 3 police officers were killed and another 3 injured in Baton Rouge, marking the latest in the string of violent incidents after the two black men were shot by police.
In fact, it was never a rare incident that unarmed black people were killed by the police in America, but most of the incidents were gone unnoticed without social media’s assistance. Undoubtedly, none of the protests would have happened had the scenes of the brutal killings of black men not been delivered online at the fingertips of hundreds of millions of people across America.
美国警察枪击黑人事件令人联想多伦多警察James Forcillo被定企图谋杀罪成立的事件。当时在社交媒体上广泛流传的19岁少年Sammy Yatim被枪杀致死的视频中显示Forcillo向街车里的Yatim一连开了九枪。
The police brutality in the States brings back horrid flashbacks of Toronto police officer James Forcillo, who was found guilty of attempted murder after video footage revealing 19-year-old Sammy Yatim’s death was spread on social media. In the video, Forcillo fired a total of 9 shots at Yatim on a bus.
In the similar way, video images shot by witnesses showing a 27-year-old Chinese man, Lei Yang, was desperately seeking help as he was arrested and beaten by the Chinese police, has gone viral on Chinese social media. Despite being censored by the Chinese authorities, the video has found its way to reach many WeChat users and sparked nationwide outcry on police violence in China. “If we don’t demand accountability and hold them responsible, we will be the next victim”, netizens tweeted on Chinese social media Weibo. As a result, 5 police officers are currently under investigation.
It was social media that has helped put the police officers’ misconduct under the public spotlight. It plays a vital role in exposing wrong doings. Moreover, the social media tool has fueled the growth of watchdog journalism, allowing the public to hold police officers accountable.
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