To me it’s obvious that the abuse stories would have disappeared if not for the videos. Very much like the original Rodney King police-beating video, they have the amazing property of rendering debate moot. The NYPD spokesman can talk all he wants about the pepper-spraying being “appropriate.” But no reasonable person who spends a minute looking at the video, even allowing for selectivity in filming, can think that the coward-cop* behaved appropriately (or in accordance with NYPD guidelines).
And the make-or-break nature of the videos in this case not only raises the obvious questions about the other cases that are never captured. It also underscores the importance of a point another reader makes: . . . the evident targeting [by the New York Police Department] of people carrying cameras and video cameras.
This gives additional insight about police departments’ failure to respect the public’s First Amendment right to photograph police officers carrying out their duties in public –see here and here — all while police forces increasingly rely on video monitoring of public spaces to assist law enforcement, as in Atlanta. A world where government officials can employ video photography, but citizens cannot, is another step closer to the one Orwell warned about in Nineteen Eighty-Four.