In 1991, George Holliday's video of Rodney King being kicked and nightsticked by LAPD officers shocked the nation and sparked an uprising that galvanized the discussion about police brutality.
A quarter century later, Ed, a political science professor, reports that when he shows the video to his students -- who have seen dozens of viral videos of American police officers beating and killing other black Americans -- can't figure out what the big deal is supposed to be.
I do believe they all understood, but as that day went on I was increasingly bothered by that that brief exchange meant. This is a generation of kids so numb to seeing videos of police beating, tasering, shooting, and otherwise applying the power of the state to unarmed and almost inevitably black or Hispanic men that they legitimately could not understand why a video of cops beating up a black guy (who *didn’t even die* for pete’s sake!) was shocking enough to cause a widespread breakdown of public order. Now we get a new video every week – sometimes every few days – to the point that the name of the person on the receiving end is forgotten almost immediately. There are too many “Video of black guy being shot or beaten” videos for even interested parties to keep them all straight. Do a self test. Do you remember the name of the guy the NYPD choked out for selling loose cigarettes? The guy in suburban Minneapolis whose girlfriend posted a live video on Facebook after a cop shot her boyfriend in the car? The guy in Tulsa who was surrounded by cops and unarmed while a police helicopter recorded an officer deciding to shoot him? The woman who was found hanged in her Texas jail cell leading to the public pleas to “Say Her Name”?
“There’s way worse videos”: Today’s students on Rodney King [Ed/Sociological Images]