Little Brother is Watching Too


big_brotherWhen Oscar Grant was shot by BART police in an Oakland station on New Year’s Day, locals found it quite suspicious that the official surveillance cameras weren’t working, so that no video would be available. Had it not been for “little brother,” i.e. people in the area with their cell-phone cameras out recording what happened, the story police told might have been far different.

The latest example comes from the G-20 summit, where London’s CCTV cameras were shut down by a legal ruling two days before the summit started.

The emergence of amateur video showing Ian Tomlinson, the man who had a heart attack on the day of the protests, being pushed to the ground by a police officer soon before he died. It clearly demonstrates that for every camera pointed at you by Big Brother, there are 10 more pointed back by Little Brother — an informed, digitally savvy civilian population that has the tools to record anything, anytime, anywhere.

There’s a movement afoot to make this sort of action even more ubiquitous, thanks to groups like I-Witness Video and Indymedia.

Brian Spears is Senior Poetry Editor of The Rumpus and the author of A Witness in Exile (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011). His poem “Upon Reading That Andromeda Will One Day Devour Triangulum and Come For Us Next” was featured in Season 9 of Motion Poems. More from this author →