In recent years, cops have increasingly expressed contempt for average citizens exercising their constitutional right to record interactions with authorities. It’s almost as if a lot of them feel above the law itself.
Now, some officers appear to be trying to escape videos of them circulating on social media with a clever – if not exactly airtight – strategy: playing copyrighted music long enough to be flagged by software. automatic censorship on apps like Instagram.
According to VICE News, a well-known LA activist went to the Beverly Hills Police Department to obtain body camera footage of a recent traffic control. Sennett Devermont, the activist, did what he normally does when interacting with the police and broadcast the interaction live to his more than 300,000 followers on Instagram.
It all started out friendly and cold, however, things got weird when the officer started scrolling through his phone. Shortly thereafter, Sublime’s 90s hit “Santeria” started playing and the officer stopped speaking.
Sir, you put on some music while I try to talk to you. Can you turn this off? It’s a bit ridiculous, âwe can hear Devermont, followed by an important pause from Sgt. Fair. âI’m just trying to see how many people are watching this. Since you didn’t answer my simple question, I tried to find it myself, âthe officer behind a Blue Lives Matter face mask finally replies, alluding to their discussion moments earlier regarding the number of people who might watch the livestream.
A separate encounter with the same officer plays out in the same clip mounted near what appears to be an active crime scene. “What – why are you playing music?” Repeats Devermont, to which Sgt. Fair asks teasingly, “What?” I can not hear you.
So it works ?
Theoretically, the strategy could subject the videos to content flagging, or even account suspensions and bans. That said, Instagram’s content monitoring algorithms are inconsistent at best, and every download from Devermont’s dating stays on the social media app.
In most cases, filming police on duty is a First Amendment right in the United States. Law enforcement is more aware of this than most citizens, so people like Sgt. Fair and the others know exactly what they’re doing when they start playing music. The question is whether these are acts of a few industrious police officers or a policy recommended from above.
Take this all as a polite reminder that it’s completely legal to film cops in situations like the ones in these videos, and you should feel free to do so if you wish. There are even apps to help you do just that, so don’t let Sublime’s “Santeria” – or any tune, even the ones you hate – deter you.
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