I saw a post last night which talked partly about something which happened in the UK about a week ago.
A la George Floyd, a policeman subdued a suspect by kneeling on their neck. Fortunately, in this case, the suspect did not die.
The incident took place on the street, outside somebody’s house. The householder heard a commotion, realised what was going on, and filmed the incident.
The film made the news channels. At this time, of course it would.
I didn’t see the incident as particularly worthy of comment, because at the time, the wheels seemed to be moving in the right direction. The policeman was suspended within a couple of hours – purely for the reason that the police’s instruction manual states, apparently, that kneeling on a suspect’s neck is not permitted.
The post last night made the point that video cameras only ever give us a partial view, which is of course correct. The movie I saw on the news, somebody will have hit the start button, somebody will have hit the stop button, somebody might well have edited out the middle bit, which they decided was unimportant. So it had been deliberately decided what I would see before the clip was even aired. I understand that. All news is like that. Evidence from a single camera would instantly fail the legal test of being the whole truth.
But we live in an age where every smartphone has a video camera, and so many of us all have smartphones. We film all sorts of crap. So how could somebody do this, and think that nobody would capture it?
Second, George Floyd was killed on 25 May. That single incident sparked protests around the world. So how could anybody think it would not be newsworthy? And more fundamentally, putting the Floyd murder to one side, how can anybody think that using their knee to suffocate another human being is acceptable? You know, are there any reasons, ever, why this is acceptable?
Now, bear in mind that the policeman in this case has been hired at great public expense, has been trained at great public expense, to uphold the law. Has more than likely been armed, for that very same purpose. So I have one more question – how much do we trust this guy’s judgement, to do this for us?
You know, it is absolutely true that cameras do not tell the whole story, but how much more of this story do we need to know?