On Photographing the Police: The Pros and Cons of the Embed

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George Holliday’s video of Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King in March 1991 was the first cop watch video to go viral, albeit via TV broadcasts rather than the still-nascent internet. Twenty-five years later, the media landscape is filled with thousands of images and video clips showing everyday scenes of police violence snapped on smartphones and shared across social media.


Some of these videos—among them, the chokehold killing of Eric Garner and the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, SC—are now seared into the public consciousness. Their release has moved people into the street, forced criminal investigations, and fueled a powerful political movement agitating for criminal justice reform.

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