IMA student Martyna Starosta recently co-founded the video journalism collective New York Video League. This week, the group aired it’s first short web documentary on the online platform Waging Nonviolence. The video “Police on Playback” provides insights into the history and tactics of cowatch activism:
Stories of police brutality are often told in a way that casts victims as helpless bystanders of cops run amok. We met with Sean Pagan, a recent victim of police violence, and found that his story changes how we think about policing in New York. Sean’s story shows that communities are finding new and innovative tactics for dealing with discriminatory policing, beyond waiting for legislative reform. One such tactic is copwatch, where individuals or teams film officers making arrests. But what’s the history of the tactic? What are the risks, limitations and impact of filming the police? And how do these videos change the way we understand narratives of police violence?