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Smile. The whole world is watching

November 23, 2011 - Art Smith

Before you pepper spray students you might want to check for cameras.

On Nov. 18th Lt. John Pike, an officer with the University of California, Davis, Police Department sprayed a group of students with pepper spray. Video of the incident quickly spread across the Internet. Pike and another officer were put on administrative leave and many people are now calling for the resignation of the college chancellor because of the incident.

YouTube users have the option of viewing the spraying from a variety of angles. Videos from the incident have collectively been view millions of times in just the past few days. Images of Pike have even been Photoshopped into historical photos and settings. In a few short days the officer has been both vilified and mocked by people all over the world. In all likelihood his career in law enforcement is over. All because there are cameras everywhere.

To state the obvious, colleges are full of young people, and young people have the latest phones, and the latest phones have cameras, some even have more than one.

The iPhone, for example, has two, one facing each way. Many phones have cameras that produce video that is high enough quality to be broadcast and still photos that are high enough quality to be published in newspapers and magazines.

The other day I asked a group of college students how many of them had devices on them that at that moment were capable of shooting video. Of eleven students, eight of them, or 72 percent had the ability to shoot video if any mayhem happened to breakout in the classroom.

With thousands of people attending the protest in California there are likely thousands of people with video of Lt. Pike and his bottle of orange spray.

Law enforcement has for years used video to capture people in the act of breaking the law. The ubiquitous dashboard cam videos have even made for popular television viewing.

The use of video and social networks sites by protesters is an important part of the tools that they use to get their messages across. Yes, they still lock arms and chant, but they also stream images of the protest out to people world-wide.

You can agree or disagree with the message being sent, what is not debatable is their effectiveness in spreading it.

You can hear in some of the videos students chanting that “the whole world is watching.” They were right.


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Blog Photos

Some of the historical images that Lt. John Pike has been added to by artists around the web.