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  November 15, 2015

ACLU Releases Mobile Justice App

Representatives from ACLU of MD present Mobile Justice App in partnership with Coppin State University and community leaders.
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MEGAN SHERMAN, TRNN: The ongoing death toll of unarmed black citizens have led to questions about policing and a push for more accountability within the criminal justice system. At the heart of the conflict is the role of video shot by citizens, particularly in the case of Baltimore's Freddie Gray and others like him, where video footage taken by community members has played a significant role in the prosecution of officers involved.

KENNETH MORGAN I don't think it's a few bad apples. I think it's the role of the police, and they in many cases are doing their job, which is not consistent with our democracy and our constitutional rights in our communities. We have to be ever in the front in advocating the fact that we're not going to stand for this.

SHERMAN: Despite the rising trend of cell phone video being used as a means of documenting police interaction with citizens, many community members are still hesitant to record for fear of being arrested themselves and/or having their phones confiscated or destroyed by law enforcement. But now the ACLU, in conjunction with Coppin State University, has developed a cell phone app that will aid in compiling video of police interactions taken by citizens. Any video recorded with the app is automatically uploaded to an online database, which will preserve the footage if the cell phone was confiscated or damaged.

BRITTANY OLIVER: If you video, take your phone and video an incident, and you know, if you phone drops, if it's damaged by weather, if the police just so happen to take your phone away from you, you can upload the video, hit send, and it will come directly to the ACLU's office. So it's also a safety measure, as well.

SHERMAN: Wanda Parks, a student at Coppin State and a mother, says that the app could play a critical role in holding police accountable.

WANDA PARKS: It's important because it allows us to have a chance to share information that can later protect us. Later can lead to prosecution of the illegal activity. [It might be] the police, or whoever else might be violating our civil rights. And it's just important as a mom, it's an extra layer of protection when my kids are out. I know they're grown. Like, my oldest is 30 and my youngest is 19. but it doesn't change the fact that because of the color of their skin in our country they're in danger. Something like this allows them to be possibly a little safer.

SHERMAN: Matt Kernhelt from the Baltimore Action legal team describes how he hopes the app will also aid in empowering more individuals during protests.

MATT KERNHELT: It empowers a lot more folks out there, because legal observers do our best to observe any conflict and confrontation with the police, but this increase the eyes and ears that are out there. And video documentation is great, because it preserves exactly what happened. And the great thing about this is it doesn't force you to put these videos up on social media. Because that, this is [inaud.] you never know what else is out there. But it preserves it for an attorney to review before that information is released to the public.

SHERMAN: This is Megan Sherman reporting with the Real News Network.


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