When I was taking to the streets on a regular basis from 2000-2004, there was no live feed streaming on the internet. Indymedia did a fantastic job of covering the mass mobilizations from the protesters’ perspectives, and once in a while got a semi-live audio feed up online, but nothing like Global Revolution’s 24 hour live streaming coverage of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations this week.
This recent unprecedented level of accessibility–the opportunity to actual watch police repression happen live on your screen–has transformed the role of popular uprising in our culture, and has transformed our potential to create change.
Tonight I noticed the link to Peaceful Women Maced During NYC Protest appearing everywhere–on the front page of AOL News, in my Facebook feed, and in personal emails. What was dramatically shocking about it wasn’t that these young sidewalk-standers were attacked with chemical weapons; that’s not a particularly unique event. What was shocking was that I was reading about it in places I never had before.
Back when I was attending mass mobilizations, most of the time folks just had to take our word that crazy acts of violence were perpetrated by the police on a regular basis. Or they could wait for video to eventually be posted to YouTube, or watch the mainstream media coverage that focused on the few acts of aggression by the protesters, rather than the mass volume of offensive & violent behavior by the cops. Nowadays, it’s all right here at your fingertips, instantly. And it looks like the media might even be paying attention at this point.
It’s 2am on a Friday night, so I’m not sure where I’m going with the analysis here. But I know that I’ve personally seen many, many, many incidents like the young women above who were attacked without provocation. This is not new, unique, or out of the ordinary. But it is FINALLY showing up on the computer screens of normal people, who aren’t seeking out this kind of information.
I know this post is a bit removed from this blog’s focus on reproductive justice–but for me, these movements are all tied in together, and direct action organizing is a core part of my personal history and who I am. So please forgive the detour.