Insurrection and Modern Media

It’s easy to get obsessed with online video and narratives of the riot and insurrection at the US Capitol Building. Reading articles and watching raw video footage with perspectives on what happened is an interesting study into modern media and its influence on the specious rationales and cultish thinking behind the melee.

Twitter, for all its inanity and insanity, is an amazing place for a writer to browse as an event like this unfolds. There’s lots of raw snippets of videos with perspectives on what is happening and speculation on why. While weeding through all the muddled takes, the story slowly develops, and links to more interesting and newsworthy information emerges. Many of the raw videos have now disappeared, and there’s a variety of reasons for that: they violated terms of service or were removed because those who posted them feared personal repercussions for being there. Some of the videos were purchased by news outlets and used in published reports.

The only official news crew to enter the Capitol Building with the rioters and issue a report were from ITV News (UK). Their early coverage was unmatched by anything on American networks, probably because American reporters would have been attacked by the mob. It’s interesting to note that the only other time the Capitol Building was breached was by British soldiers in 1814, and here were the British again documenting this breach. The report showed rioters fighting with police, and it included on-the-spot interviews with enraged people inside the building. Mostly the rioters looked foolish; some appeared hyped up on more than adrenalin, and facial hair seemed to be a motif. The report also included a brief clip of amateur footage showing the woman who was shot fall to the floor, as well as video of lawmakers and staff hiding on the upper floor of the House Chamber while rioters were breaking the glass out of the barricaded door below. 

One of the most remarkable clips of raw footage on Twitter was shot by independent videographer John Sullivan (Jayden X) who caught the gun shot that killed the woman who tried to climb through a broken-out window into a secure area. A blurred out version of this clip later appeared in an article by the Washington Post synced with another video showing a different perspective. The Jayden X video is taken from a vantage point next to the door as rioters are trying to break it down after police guarding it had stepped away. A gun appears on the other side of the door, pointed toward the broken-out window, and the person behind the camera yells “there’s a gun!”. The plain clothes officer, mostly in the shadows, is apparently shouting a lawful order which isn’t heard or heeded, then the gun goes off and the video captures the woman falling backwards onto the floor. 

There’s a longer version of the video on a YouTube channel with 40 minutes of raw footage starting outside the building and ending with the woman bleeding out and dying on the floor inside the Capitol Building. (Search: Jayden X on YouTube for the video ’Storming of the US Capitol’) It’s amazing to follow the crowd where the videographer seems to be egging those around him on by shouting, “we about to burn this s___ down” and “Let’s go. This s___ is ours! … We did this together. … We are all a part of this history.” Later, he more calmly talks to police officers telling them to stand down or people might get hurt. Upon entering the Rotunda, the camera pans up to the roof as the videographer marvels and says “Wow, what is this? What is life? I’m shook.” 

There’s almost a video game mindset among some in the crowd as they wander around dumbfounded and talk about making history. Later, when the gun shot that kills the woman goes off, a voice claims ridiculously that it was only a flash bang. (A flash bang or stun grenade produces a light and bang that overwhelms the senses for 10 seconds or more.) After the shooting, as the woman bleeds out and dies on the floor, people are calling it murder when it clearly looked like a justified defense of a secured area.

John Sullivan, the videographer and an activist from Utah, was later arrested and charged with crimes including unlawful entry. Others around the location of the shooting have also been arrested, and some may face additional charges for boosting the woman up into the broken out window before she was shot. There are investigations into whether some members of Congress brought groups into the building for reconnaissance the day before. One newly-elected congresswoman appears in a photo with white supremacists who were caught on video inside the Capitol talking about how to take over the building. Arrests of some in Congress may be coming in the next few days.

Who knows where the country would be now if these people had successfully taken over the building and found hostages?

(From the LA Times: Citizen Journalist or Activist?)

Categories: Media-Arts-CultureTags: , , , ,

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