It's difficult to watch the footage of an out-of-control police officer losing his shit while breaking up a pool party of adolescents in McKinney, Texas. It's impossible to forget the moment he kneels on top of a young girl in a swimsuit while she cries for help. Artist @markusprimelives responded by flipping the incident on its head.
The piece was posted on @markusprimelives' Instagram yesterday in response to the events in McKinney, Texas. It has amassed thousands of likes, hundreds of comments, and has jumped across a variety of platforms, appearing prominently on Twitter and Tumblr. It is one of the many online responses to yet another incident of police brutality caught on film.
In a mobile phone video taken at the scene of a party (there had been no crime), the cop, Eric Casebolt, can be seen shouting obscenities and commands, chasing youths, drawing his gun on them, and throwing a 14-year-old girl in an orange bikini to the ground before sitting on her. Reactions on social media have been outraged, while the mainstream media ties itself up into knots debating what the kids could have done differently to prevent a trained, armed law enforcement officer from going berserk.
(The incident starts around the three-minute mark, but the whole video is important for context.)
America is experiencing a time of introspection and anger over widespread police brutality, most often aimed at minorities. We have seen the disproportionate use of force again and again in recent years, with the killing of unarmed black men and women and a terrifying militarised response to protests that have arisen in response.
Much of the current unrest has only reached national and international attention because of social media and image-capturing technology. Previously, the media would have nothing to go on but the word of police officers, but now videos and pictures taken by bystanders can change the story.
Sure, social media can be vapid, self-indulgent, and toxic. But for every troll on Twitter, or brunch food Instagram, there is a post being created that allows a voice to be heard and a point to be made that previously would have had no platform.
— R.Saddler (@Politics_PR) June 8, 2015
— Feminist Culture (@feministculture) June 8, 2015
@markusprimelives turned this image of brutality into a moving work of art that subverts the violence of the original. The widely-shared picture depicts 14-year-old Dajerria Becton standing in a confident superhero's pose above the handcuffed officer. It is not an image of revenge or further violence, but of simple justice: Becton was the victim of a crime, and Casebolt should feel the long arm of the law. At present, he has been placed on administrative leave -- meaning he still collects a pay cheque -- while an investigation into the events in McKinney continues.
Without that video, the pool party in Texas would never have made the news. But because it has, social media allows us to participate as we never could before, and attempt to show more than one version of the truth, in shaky video and stark lines.