Zombie’s Anatomy of a Video: Fabricating Police Brutality
How the media and left-wing blogs joined forces to create a police scandal out of thin air.
August 31, 2008 - 5:29 pm
The police vehicle arrived and Garcia was brought over to it. He was none too happy with the situation.
They bundled him on to the vehicle…
…as the swelling crowd swirled around and pressed forward.
The three photos below were taken by someone standing right near me during the melee. After both Garcia and Forrest had been later taken away, and I had seen that this photographer had captured a crucial moment, I approached him and offered to share photos with him, and we exchanged email addresses. The following day I sent him some of my photos, and he sent me these three, which I had requested. (The other photographer wishes to remain anonymous.)
Here we see Alicia Forrest standing face-to-face with Officer Stewart, who had just told her (for the millionth time) to move away, and who puts up his baton to create a defensive wall, and to give her (this time) a gentle shove back.
But Forrest simply would not obey him (nor any of the other officers). Instead of backing up, she actually leaned forward, and started taunting Officer Stewart even more aggressively. As seen in the photo above, he had just finished trying to push her backwards, using his baton, which Forrest didn’t like, so she dared him to “Fuckin’ do it again!” At that point, Officer Stewart simply lost his patience with this annoying gadfly who obviously felt her pink clothes rendered her immune to criticism or to police enforcement. It was moments after this photo was taken that the scene depicted in the Rocky Mountain News video took place.
Here’s the contextless video again (YouTube link). You can hear Forrest saying “Fuckin’ do it again!”, and then Stewart taking her up on her offer and saying “Back it up, bitch!” as he clonks her on the forehead or on the sunglasses, causing her to fall backwards. The “crack” you hear is not the sound of his baton on her skull, but rather that of her pink plastic bullhorn hitting the pavement and all its batteries falling out.
At that point other photographers rushed over to document the scene. Officer Stewart can be seen maintaining his stance.
Now we’re back to my photos. You can see the dropped bullhorn and its batteries scattered on the ground, as Forrest clutched her head.
An instant later, another protester kneeled down to attend to her.
Now, pay close attention to the next three photos.
He asked her if she was OK, and she started to get up.
It was at this point that all the other photographers either stopped taking pictures and videos, or more likely, stopped showing the world their imagery, because it didn’t convey the narrative that they wanted to tell (i.e. of Forrest as victim and the police as brutes).
Because just seconds later, Forrest got up…
..and walked away under her own power, apparently uninjured.
Some time later, journalists had gathered around her and she was starting to spin what undoubtedly was going to be a lopsided version of what had happened, and it was then that the police finally detained her for interfering with another arrest (as shown in the second half of the Rocky Mountain News video and in this photo, taken from this site).
Now that you’ve seen the whole story, look at the original video again. You can see that the Rocky Mountain News, or at least “George Kochaniec,” the videographer named at the beginning, purposely cut off the film at the exact moment before Alicia Forrest got up off the ground and walked away, perfectly healthy. The only possible explanation is that the RMN didn’t want the public to see that part, since it didn’t convey the proper impression. And Kochaniec says he didn’t witness the earlier part of the melee, so one supposes he didn’t have a full record of Forrest’s misbehavior. Hence, the resulting video and article in the Rocky Mountain News lacked the necessary context.I wasn’t sure this entire incident was even such a big deal, until I saw that it was getting traction all over the Internet.The YouTube video, as of this writing, already has 269,000 views; many blogs, such as this one, this one, and this one, among hundreds of others, portrayed Forrest as a wholly innocent victim, and Officer Stewart as a maniacal bully. (Only the Marco Chacon blog and the weekly paper Westword seemed to grasp that the RMN video must have left out all the context.)(On the off-chance that the video ever gets taken down off of YouTube, you can also watch it here on LiveLeak.)There were several mainstream media articles about this incident, too many to summarize here. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! even had a short television report about the incident, naturally taking the anti-police position. Officer Stewart is now reportedly under investigation, and the story continues to grow day by day. And yet everyone is working with only a small percentage of the necessary information, and they’re basing their actions and conclusions on the inherently deceptive Rocky Mountain News video, which served its intended purpose of discrediting the police.After viewing the full story, what’s your opinion? Do you think Officer Stewart should be investigated or suspended? Do you think the Rocky Mountain News committed journalistic malfeasance? Either way, email the URL of this essay to the Rocky Mountain News, or the Denver Police “Independent Monitor”, or the Denver Post, or blog about it yourself.