Power of Images / Images of Power
August 17, 2020.
A 15-year-old boy.
Graffiti – Leave No One Behind & Please, I Can’t Breathe.
A video documenting a brutal police action1.
Person A: Stop filming there!
Police: Can you turn off the camera!
Person filming: I won’t.
Police: He is defending himself against us here. Not the other way around.
Person filming: Still, I don’t know that.
Police (to Boy): Don’t do that now. Leave it now, damn it.
Arriving police (?): Put your cell phone away. I said, put the cell phone away!
Person filming: No, I don’t. This is my cell phone. I can do whatever I want with it. (…)2
Person filming: Yes, I can. (…) I know the rights. (…) Nah, really, I know the rights!
Person B (to Person filming): You shouldn’t film that. This is not allowed.
Person filming: I can’t stand to watch that.
Boy: Ouch, my arm.
Person B (to Person filming): Do you want to put it on the Internet now?
Person filming: No, of course not. (…)
Police (to Boy): On the ground!
Person filming: It can’t be true, yes! That’s a boy. This can’t be true. You’re humans, too. Yes, really. (…) This is not normal. This young man has problems, otherwise he would never do this.
Police (to Boy): Get down! Get on the ground, man! Get down!
Person filming (to Police): Stay calm!
Police (to Boy): Get on the ground!
Person filming (to Police): This is not normal. What are you doing to him? He’s not doing anything.
He’s not doing anything!
Person C (to Police): That’s a kid, my goodness!
Person filming (to Police): What are you doing to him? Guys, take it easy! What are you doing to him?
Person D (to Police): Man, he is crying!
Person filming (to Police): That’s not possible. He is 15 years old. Stay relaxed!
Boy (to Police): I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!
Person filming (to Police): He can’t breathe, guys! What are you doing to him? (…) Relax!
Person filming (to Police): What did he do?
Police (to Person filming): Young lady, this is a police intervention here.
Person filming (to Police): But I’m a human being. I’m interested in what this 15-year-old has done. He has no weapon in his hand. He doesn’t carry a weapon. I’ve been here for 5 minutes. He doesn’t do anything.
Police (to Person filming): You stop filming now! Or the cell phone will be gone in a moment!
Person filming (to Police): No, the cell phone is not going anywhere, this is my cell phone. This is my right to film.
What happened to Kadir Holdur on August 17, 2020 is just one of many cases that come to my mind when I think about the loi sécurité globale and its article 24.
What happens to a democratic society that prohibits the diffusion of images and videos made by its citizens that document interventions of the state and its security apparatuses?
What would have happened in the above mentioned situation, if the woman had not filmed this disproportional and brutal police operation against a minor?
Or if she had not known about her right to film?
Do you think that newspapers would have reported about this ‘incident’, if the video did not exist? Do you think that the police would have published a ‘statement’ on their action, if the video did not exist?
Do you think that Kadir Holdur and his family would have a chance to win a court case against the involved police officers, if the video did not exist?
It is not a singular case.
It happens every day. Everywhere. It happens just like this.
It happens to some people and to others it does not happen.
It happens because of little and banal things. Like a 15-year-old riding an e-scooter on the pavement.
It happens because of structural racism. And classism. Sometimes it ends with murder.
This should make us defend and demand the right to have rights.
Caroline Pitzen, cinéaste.
1-The following video documents police brutality against a minor. This content is disturbing, so I encourage everyone to prepare themselves emotionally before If you believe that watching will be traumatizing for you, then you may choose to forgo it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d_-Vlvj8Hw
2-Some parts of the audio are not to understand, you can only hear These parts are marked as follows (…).