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Living the ACD experience: As video improves, so must justice

Aaron Tommie 2The advent of the Internet has allowed information to be shared in ways modern civilization has probably never seen. Through social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube and news outlets such as CNN and Fox News, breaking news can be filmed by anyone with a smart phone or any other camera, and be seen by millions in a matter of minutes, whereas 100 years ago, it would take much longer for people to receive news.

In the Broadcasting Department, our jobs are to record people’s lives and moments through video. As a videographer, a huge responsibility is given to us because, although on a smaller scale, we are documenting history. The story can vary based on the way we film and edit the video. For that reason, it has been difficult for me to observe the events occurring within our country and not be affected by them.

Our country is in the midst of dealing with the aftermath of its past transgressions. Historical calamities such as the forced enslavement of Africans and the genocide of Native Americans have created a breeding ground for many of our country’s present social problems, including the prevalence of police brutality.

As of Aug. 22, 753 people have been killed by police this year in the United States, according to the website that tracks media coverage of such incidents.

Viral footage of incidents involving the deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, and more recently of Korryn Gaines in Maryland, has caused outrage as people realize that antiquated laws and policies need drastic modifications. Although there have been more whites killed by police, it is an unfortunate fact that minorities are killed by police at a higher rate.

Since Native Americans account for approximately one percent of the US population, there isn’t much national news coverage of issues concerning the Native American community. For example, Ma-hi-vist Goodblanket, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, was killed by police in December 2014 in Oklahoma. This has been one of the more talked about police killings of a Native American, but hasn’t garnered the attention of other high profile cases.

As a fellow Seminole, this is disheartening. Whether you’re Native or not, these events affect everyone. The Blacks Lives Matter movement has led to the Native Lives Matter movement and others which aim to convey the importance of the lives of people of color, especially during the times when the justice system doesn’t seem to balance in their favor.

The bulk of the outrage from people of all communities comes because of the instances – and there seems to be plenty – when the cops who have been proven to have broken protocol are only given minor punishments, if any, while the victims’ family members have to deal with the effects of losing a loved one.

Hopefully in the future, as video’s technology continues to improve, so would our laws and policies which lead to more stringent punishments for those who do wrong, police officer or not. When millions of people see these videos, they spark something within them and force people to hold those doing wrong accountable. Change has to happen in order for these issues to dissipate, which undoubtedly can occur with video as the catalyst.

Aaron Tommie
Aaron has worked for the Tribe since 2015. He is inspired by people who are selfless, humble, and motivated. His family is the most important aspect of his life and is a die hard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. He came to work for the Tribe to show his appreciation to his ancestors for the blessings Tribal citizens receive based on their foresight and the sacrifices they made. He loves mysteries and conspiracy theories and is a huge on a great story line or plot in something that is supposed to entertain him.