Over the past 72 hours, people across the US have captured what may be the most comprehensive live picture of police brutality ever. Any one of the videos we’ve seen could have sparked a national discussion, with people picking apart their elements, searching for context to argue about, and digging through the pasts of everyone involved. But it’s not just one act of violence, it’s everywhere. On Saturday, the names of several police officers allegedly seen perpetrating violence in different cities began trending on Twitter as people worked to cross-reference faces from videos with personal information on the web.
Here is just a short list of the scenes that have played out this week:
The violence appears so widespread and consistent that you could be mistaken for thinking it’s coordinated at a national level. To some extent, it is: President Trump has cheered on police violence like a fan at a sports event, and police departments across the country have styled themselves as military forces after two decades of hand-me-downs from the War on Terror.
“US cities face toll of violent protests,” says a headline at the top of Fox News. “Fury in the streets as protests spread across the US,” says The New York Times. “Fire and fury spread across the US,” says The Washington Post. “Wave of rage and anguish sweeps dozens of US cities,” says CNN. But whose rage? Whose fury? Whose violence?
Here’s another: ABC local news in Utah runs a graphic saying “violent protests in Salt Lake City.” In the background of the video, police knock an elderly man with a cane to the ground. He was simply standing near a bus stop.
We can’t deny what we are seeing, and we must describe it accurately. Whose violence? Whose rage? It’s from American police.
Warning: the images shown below are disturbing.