Why a Brave Lavish Reynolds Had to Record and Narrate Her Boyfriend’s Murder by Cop

Kali Holloway in AlterNet:

Screen_shot_2016-07-07_at_6_36_23_pmThe first thing Lavish Reynolds did after a police officer shot her boyfriend multiple times was pick up her cellphone and start livestreaming to Facebook. I am hung up on this detail, and I keep coming back to it. It is not so much the start of a horrific story, but a critical element of the story itself—of Philando Castile’s brutal murder by police, and of what it means to be black in America. By this I mean that Lavish Reynolds, like all black folks in these United States, knew the drill. We have long been aware that to tell the personal stories of police brutality, even when there are unarmed black bodies and citizen eyewitnesses, means nothing. In the last few years, cellphones have made it possible to document the truth that black people have begged this country to acknowledge about the terror carried out by police against our communities. Even that has not brought justice. Television networks have learned that footage of black death is a reliable ratings booster, a loopable backdrop for news reporters more concerned with criminalizing the dead than the shooter. It does not erase racism from our justice system, and it does not bring about convictions of police officers. But shoving black death in the face of white America is often the only hope of inspiring outrage, and so we continue to film.

If you have seen the video, you should recognize the danger Reynolds faced as she held her phone, speaking into it, describing the scene. An agitated cop is screaming at her, pointing a gun at her as he yells. It is the same gun he has just unloaded into her loved one, who sits barely a foot from her; the same gun he fired into a car despite the fact that it contains her 4-year-old daughter, who is in the back seat. Her boyfriend’s shirt is soaked with blood, his moans audible as life leaves him. It is astounding to watch Reynolds' composure in these seconds, as she carefully responds to the cop’s shouted instructions while ensuring that every second goes out live. That she chose, or had the wherewithal in those terrifying minutes, to Facebook Live stream what was happening instead of merely recording it is important, too. Reynolds created a real-time S.O.S. that went out to her network of friends and family, one that couldn't possibly be erased by authorities later. This was an act of resistance and a necessary safeguard; possibly the only way to ensure the violence didn’t go any further by using the only means most of us have to police the police. And yet just as easily, a reason they might have used to justify another death.

More here.