If you’re on Facebook, then you’ve probably seen the tragic video of Samuel DuBose being shot in the head by a University of Cincinnati police officer during what appears to have been a routine traffic stop. It’s everywhere, and it’s something everyone needs to see.
The video is utterly disturbing, so it should come as no surprise to see so many people sharing such controversial content like mad. In it, we see footage from Officer Ray Tensing’s body camera that documents the moment Samuel DuBose was shot.
In what the prosecutor referred to as a “senseless, asinine” shooting, Tensing has now been indicted for murdering a 43-year-old unarmed man during a traffic stop. The officer now faces life in prison if he is convicted of these charges.
Although Tensing reportedly claimed he feared he would be run over and was acting in self-defense, the body camera footage that was released seems to contradict Tensing’s account of the shooting:
As Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters stated during a news conference, “It’s an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner. It was senseless.”
And here’s where we come to the most important part of the story. There have been too many senseless shootings of minorities by police officers to count, and most of them go unnoticed. But it’s this video footage, released to the public and shared thousands of times on Facebook, that provides a small glimmer of hope for retribution. As the DuBose family attorney noted, without this video, an indictment would have been unlikely.
We already know there are undeniable racial disparities in the police force — The Guardian estimates that unarmed black Americans are twice as likely to be killed as white Americans. Racial bias in the police force has been confirmed, though statistics are murky at best. After seeing the tragic losses of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and most recently Sandra Bland in the custody of police, we still don’t have any answers. We’re outraged, but we don’t know what to do about it.
Most of the time, we hear the negatives about living in the Information Age, but there’s really something positive about our ability to share news and sound off opinions at the click of a button. We have the capacity to create change from behind our computer screens, just as much as we have the capacity to troll and spew viral garbage.
The defining factor in the Samuel DuBose shooting was the video footage. This alarming footage has been released to the public and is being spread like wildfire on Facebook. We saw the same phenomenon in the past few days as more footage from Sandra Bland’s time in jail was released, putting pressure on the police to provide answers surrounding the mysterious circumstances of her death.
Fifty years ago, at the height of the civil rights movement, this couldn’t have happened. The same horrible tragedies were occurring then at the hands of police, but the difference is that now we have the social platform to call it like we see it. The millions of people who are disgusted by Samuel DuBose’s senseless killing aren’t going to keep quiet — they’re going to share it on Facebook.
It may be hard to watch this video when it comes up in your feed, but it needs to be done. What seems like a small step in sharing this video and telling your family and friends that this treatment is unacceptable is actually taking a stand. The people who are watching, sharing and speaking up are the ones who are holding these officers accountable.