Police Protest Supercut Videos Go Viral

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An officer shoving a protester to the ground. Two New York Police Department cars ramming demonstrators. Police using batons, bicycles and car doors as weapons.

Jordan Uhl, a political consultant and activist in Washington, D.C., wanted to make sure as many people saw these videos as possible. Encouraged by a friend, he edited together 14 clips, including one from a reporter at The New York Times of an officer accelerating and opening a car door that hit protesters. The result is a two-minute, 13-second supercut that he called “This Is a Police State.”


As of Monday night, the video had amassed more than 45 million views from Mr. Uhl’s tweet alone. After he posted a Dropbox link so that anyone could download and share the video, it garnered tens of millions more views. (For context, the video that the birder Christian Cooper recorded of Amy Cooper in Central Park has been viewed 44 million times on Twitter. The viral disinformation video “Plandemic,” which traveled across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram last month, was viewed more than eight million times after just over a week online.)

“So many people were posting it to IGTV and Stories and tagging me,” Mr. Uhl, 32, said. “I can’t even keep track of how many people are sharing it.”

He said his intention was to signal-boost the experiences of the protesters and said he made limited intervention in the footage. “I trimmed some of the videos down for time,” Mr. Uhl said, adding that he “didn’t even color correct.” He did, however, add the Twitter handles of the original posters, for credit.

He views the video, focusing solely on what appear to be police misdeeds, as a corrective to what he believes to be an emphasis on covering looting and property damage by media. “I wanted to push back and show how the main story should be that, in response to a mass mobilization against police brutality, the police responded with more brutality,” Mr. Uhl said.

“People are deeply unwilling to acknowledge the abuse from police,” he continued, noting that “the passive language used for police versus the active language used for protesters demonstrate our society’s unwillingness to confront systemic injustice imposed by police.”

Those whose footage appears in the compilation video said they were glad to see their individual clips put into broader context.

Alison Sul, a 21-year-old protester in Texas, said that her video had already been viewed 2.9 million times, but Mr. Uhl’s video provided a new audience.

“The more people who see this stuff, the more accountable the police are going to have to be,” said Nate Igor Smith, 40, a photographer in Brooklyn.

“It doesn’t seem to matter which city you’re in, you’re seeing a lot of the same things happening. I think having one video where you can see things from so many different cities is powerful,” said Arlen Parsa, 33, a documentary filmmaker in Chicago. “It tells a larger story than just what’s happening in one city.”

Mutale Nkonde, a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, said that Mr. Uhl’s video “really reinforces that black protests, white protests and all social justice protests generally are not violent in nature. It moves us away from the ‘there are bad people on both sides’ or ‘there are good people on both sides’ argument and really highlights law enforcement’s aggressive attitude toward black people displaying their rights.”

“When there’s one clip you can turn away, when there’s two you start to get a better picture, when you see so many examples it’s impossible to ignore them as anomalies,” said Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, 30, an author in Kentucky who is credited in the video.

In the responses to Mr. Uhl’s initial tweet, a stream of people shared even more clips of police using force against protesters, bystanders and even children. He received so much footage that, on Monday, he posted a second supercut. So far it has garnered more than 825,000 views.

“Other people have said this before me,” Mr. Uhl said, “but none of this is new. It’s just finally being recorded.”





By Taylor Lorenz

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