The Internet has allowed citizen journalism to really come into its own in recent years, and Web video is a big part of that trend. Footage of the Oscar Grant shooting filmed by people on their mobile phones and uploaded to YouTube could actually help bring justice.
A lot has been said about citizen journalism over the past few years. While the old guard and organizations who rely on a kind of monopoly on news may not be fans, the rest of us appreciate being able to get a different side of the story from people actually at the scene.
Citizen journalism isn’t limited just to video of course. Sites such as Twitter are updated on a regular basis with people’s first hand accounts of breaking news stories. But seeing video footage taken from someone on the scene of a news event takes some beating.
Oscar Grant Shooting
And so it has proved in the case of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Californian who was shot dead by police in the early hours of the morning on New Year’s Day.
Grant as returning home from New Year’s Eve celebrations with a group of friends when he was ordered off a train at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland. Police were responding to reports of a fight taking place on the train.
Grant, along with various other young men, were taken from the train, restrained, and questioned by transit police officers. The train that the men were ordered off remained in the station while all of this was going on.
As is typical these days, some of the people in attendance started recording the incident on their mobile phones, whether to show to their friends, or upload to Facebook or whatever. But no-one could have realized the eventual importance of the footage being shot.
As can be seen in this YouTube video of the incident, the situation got out of control and Grant ended up being shot dead. This is despite him seeming to be cooperating with the police officers fully and not doing anything to warrant a gun even being drawn.
Police Officer Shoots and Kills
The Importance of Online Video
The people who took the video footage of the incident got home that night and uploaded it to YouTube or sent it to news stations. And the videos such as the one above could prove vital in providing evidence of wrongdoing or otherwise on the part of the police officer who fired the fatal shot.
This story is obviously very sad because a young man has been shot. But it also shows the incredible power that citizen journalism and online video in particular can have. Without mobile video and video sharing Web sites such as YouTube, the truth of this case may never have been discovered. As it is, justice can now surely be brought.
[Via The Guardian]
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