News & Views
Bearing witness: citizen journalism

The news in the United States has been heartbreaking to watch. Overwhelming even.

We watched Dallas, Texas reeling after a sniper killed five police officers and injured seven others in a protest about police brutality. News crews were not the only ones capturing the event. Protesters and bystanders pulled out their smart phones, cameras and other devices to bear witness. In one of the most graphic footage, a man on a balcony videotaped a gunman shooting and killing a police officer at point blank range.


The Dallas protest stemmed from police shootings that occurred earlier in the week and were also captured by video.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, video showed police officers shooting Alton Sterling multiple times while he was held on the ground. A day later, a woman live broadcasted the aftermath of a police shooting that left her boyfriend, Philando Castile, bleeding to death, and police fumbling on what to do next on Facebook. Facebook had introduced live streaming video in December.

All of this has been raw, horrific and gut wrenching. The videos provide a close up look of news like never before. It is news that is hard to watch – and yet we do – and in many cases, we must because we can’t deny the events that are occurring.

A year ago, I wrote about the power of surveillance and police cameras to bear witness and provide transparency after a series of police brutality cases. The violence has not stopped. And witnesses continue to use what they can to tell what they have seen, heard and felt.

Ordinary people are capturing extraordinary times with ordinary technology.

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