Nowadays everyone has a 12 megapixel photo camera and 1080p HD video camera in their pockets. This is one reason to dress appropriately, but the focus of this guide is on camera etiquette.
Any photo, video, or livestream could potentially lead to an arrest. It is important to understand that every photo and video posted to social media or otherwise shared is a risk. You may take a benign photo or video of someone who is doing nothing that cops consider “illegal”. Perhaps the person is simply holding a sign and marching. But later on, that person maybe be involved in other “illegal” actions for which the cops want to make arrests. Your benign photo or video could be used to identify them. Here’s how that can happen: the FBI used a Philly protester’s Etsy profile, LinkedIn, and other internet history to charge her with setting police cars ablaze. Similarly, Apple cooperated with law enforcement to help track down a protester accused of firebombing cop cars.
Do NOT take photos or videos that can easily identify a protestor — especially if the activity being recorded could be considered “illegal” by the police. (Yes, this includes burning shit, but it also includes seemingly benign acts like “unlawful assembly” if the protest has been deemed as such, or breaking an imposed curfew.) Cops will try to use photos and videos to identify people and make arrests.
Do NOT post photos or videos on social media that identify protestors. Police search social media to identify and arrest protestors.
NEVER livestream. Many investigations have started and finished with information gathered from a well-intentioned livestream. This practice actively sends people on our side of the barricades into the hands of the police, ICE, and the prison industrial complex.
Why is livestreaming risky?
Remember, civilians do not choose what is legal or illegal. In Louisville, 87 peaceful protesters were charged with felonies. Your livestream could send someone to prison — is that worth it? Only film cops and their use of force!
View and share the full guide by @decrimseattle.
Note: Even if you disagree with an action by a protestor or “rioter”, we must not allow ourselves to aid, assist, or be accomplices to the police. We protest and take action to demand change, not to facilitate police brutality. Never help a cop make an arrest. In fact, never help a cop do anything. They cannot be trusted with our lives.
DO take photos and videos of police brutality. Document as many instances of police violence and misconduct as you can, and share your photos and videos as widely as possible. We must hold racist, violent police accountable.
Guide: Teen Vogue’s piece on How to Safely and Ethically Film Police Misconduct.
Remove photo metadata, blur faces, THEN post on social media. BEFORE you post photos, use an Image Scrubber app to remove image metadata and blur ALL protestors’ faces. iPhone users: you can also try this Blur Faces shortcut (Instructions). The Signal app can also blur faces in photos.
What is “image metadata” anyway? Every time you take a digital photo, various data and information are embedded into the image file itself. Whether you have a standalone digital camera, or a smartphone, this metadata (EXIF) is captured. This includes things like the following:
Avoid arrest. If you get arrested and your phone contains photos and videos from the protest, this puts you and your comrades at risk.
Be safe: read the Communication Guide to secure your phone before going to the protest.