Mobile Justice App: A futile solution to America’s policing problem?

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The three remaining Baltimore police officers were excused of all charges over Freddie Gray’s death on the 27th of July. Gray was a young black man who was killed in April 2015 after being subjected to beatings whilst in police custody. Gray’s death marked a turning point in Police-black community relations, sparking two week long protests in Baltimore followed by two days of rioting which highlighted police brutality issues. The media turned public attention to police brutality cases and all of a sudden such cases appeared to become very common occurrences, most recently Alton Sterling, a 37 year old Black male who was shot as a result of selling CDs and Philando Castile shot one day later when reaching for his drivers’ license at a routine police stop.

In light of the latter deaths, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) created a mobile application available for iOS and Android, named the “Mobile Justice App” which allows for citizens to record police-related events. The application is designed to record, for example a police stop at the push of a button which will be uploaded to a remote server which will provide crucial evidence aginst the officer regardless of whether the enforcement officer confiscates your phone or erases the video which has occurred a few times now, notably with the shooting of Laquan McDonald in October 2014.

In theory this is a brilliant idea, one would think that video evidence of a murder being perpetrated would provide more than sufficient evidence to prosecute the assailant and hold police accountable. However, in reality this is a futile attempt at addressing police brutality. As we have seen with a number of cases as reported by DNAinfo, stating that 80% of Chicago police camera videos were missing audio or video due to offer error and intentional destruction, including removing batteries, microphones and antennas,  police body cameras which conveniently “fell off” when restraining Sterling. I was watching an old Simpsons episode today and noted down a quote on justice by Marge Simpson: “The courts may not be working any more, but as long as everyone is videotaping everyone else, justice will be done”, which has certainly not been the case. Sure the argument can be made that these videos can become viral, raise public awareness and be submitted to the courts, but what does this matter if police aren’t held accountable? This app is writing a cheque that it cannot cash, it is merely a feeble attempt to paper over cracks without actually addressing the problem. If the U.S. are to address the problem of institutionalised racism and police brutality whilst actually holding police officers accountable we must abandon this mind-set that soft, passive methods will prevent the slaying of innocents. People have been lulled into believing that the police are a reformable entity which is why people are so willing to accept liberal ‘fixes’ which don’t require action. The Police cannot be reformed as they’re not willing to be reformed. They do not wish to be transparent or engage in dialogue about the racial issues that plague America and may actually lead to some sort of resolve, thus showing videos and statistics will not address the matter. Police are bullies and sometimes to deal with bullies you have to fight fire with fire. The numerous calls for Black America to be calm whilst simultaneously slaughtering members of their community just isn’t cricket. Affirmative action must be taken, black America cannot lay down any longer and hope that liberal plasters will actually heal the gaping wound that is institutionalised racism in America.

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