Allissa Richardson once thought videos showing police brutality would bring justice. Proving to everyone what people of color encounter with police would bring change. Richardson has changed her mind, she writes in an essay on Vox, after repeatedly seeing George Floyd die on television. The practice invites a victim's last moments to be broken down by the public and a jury, then preserved online for viewing anytime, often without the family's consent. Now she wonders why it ever seemed necessary to document the killings. "Why were Black and brown people forced to pre-litigate their own murder trials in this way?" she writes. "Why was it necessary to form a counternarrative to the old stereotype of Black and brown folks’ criminality? Why did we ever need to produce a parallel storyline to an official police report?"
The practice only reinforces white supremacy, Richardson writes, reminding everyone of the protections police officers are afforded and the fate of people of color who object to this social order. She calls for suspending the airing of the videos online and on TV unless the family agrees they can be shown. That could prompt journalists to look into the systemic issues leading to the deaths instead of the exact second when a 13-year-old about to be killed dropped a gun. If we believe people of color, we can eliminate the "need to play this game of video empathy before justice," says Richardson, who teaches journalism at USC. "We have enough proof," she writes. "We have enough pain. What we don’t have is reform." You can read the full piece here. (Read more police brutality stories.)