— Field Notes

Is This Democracy in Action or a Nascent Police State

Or both?

A young man (Terence Eden) in London is stopped for a random bag search by an “Anti Terrorism Squad” in a train station, the man has a mobile phone capable of streaming live video to the Internet, he streams the search. The stream is copied to a video community web site, now people from around the world can watch and comment on the police action, critique the police behavior and discuss the effectiveness of such state action.

The Internet continues to change the way we relate to each other and our relationship with Power, this random search in London was an exercise in Power. Our security institutions are where the muscle meets the road, they are where political polices are enforced and acted out. It is new that we have an opportunity to watch these actions live or even via “tape delay”.


Here is the original video and the video comments by  people  from  England, Australia, New York, and an expatriate in Asia, that’s variety of  folk who have an opportunity to comment on the Police Action, it takes lots of time to watch but might be worth the time. [caution this is very slow to load]


I want to quote Steven Shavior  on democracy, some might say or think that these tools (video, streaming, blogging etc.) are democratizing media:

For democracy is a tendency, a process, a collective action, rather than a state of affairs, much less an organized State. Democracy is an event; it happens when, for instance, people militate to change the distribution of what is public and what is private. In the US, the civil rights movement and (more recently) the alterna-globalization protests would be examples of democracy in action. [from The Pinocchio Theory]

I think these technologies could be democratizing, in the sense they can be tools for individuals and groups to observe and organize against overt authoritarian use of state power.

In the video above we have a public place where the state has a multitude of surveillance cameras and technologies, the state has police agents in force; that’s a lot of focused Power. We also have an individual with a video enabled mobile phone.

What do you think? Comments are very welcome here.

Boing Boing has now covered the incident, so this is making a splash

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