I’ve always been a huge fan of technology. I’ve been fortunate enough to have semi regular access (regular now) to the internet since 1996. I remember the days when yahoo messenger, and aol gave us our first video chats, with friends, family, and those we never met.
Years ago I hosted an internet show on a site called Stickam, which I could pull other users video feeds in and have a live talk show with guests. It was mildly popular, and included a few guests of infamy, and was hosted live from… my bedroom.
At the time, I also had started a livestream account, but the platform was choppy, ustream coaxed me in and asked me to try their service. Also too choppy during those days in 2008. I kept my account around though.
When Occupy started, I was one of the few people at the Los Angeles camp who had experience with streaming. I helped find guests, (who sadly were not always allowed in the media tent, but that’s another story) and tried to help find relevant content for offline media, but during camp days, until the final weeks we were not offline much.
I had suggested instead of the bizarre ideas the media team had about buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment, we get some decent phones, some battery packs, and hook up streamers, instead of our laptop on a car with converters, and truck batteries. I was shut down.
Then the Skyborg appeared, and other streamers from Oakland, and San Francisco, and people realized, laptops were stupid, and dangerous if you had to run, phones and battery packs work.
I started using my own phone to stream for OLA in April of 2012. Prior to that I spent the prior 7 months mixing our official channel, rebroadcasting streams from across the world, as well as General Assemblies, and other meetings and actions.
I already knew before I even posted my first “I’m going Live” update, that the cops were going to be watching.
I’ve always tried to take that into account, but because of the transparency of Occupy, many times I ended up feeling uncomfortable about what I had streamed, fearful people could be targeted because of my footage. I watched comrades arrested again and again, and by summer of 2012, realized as soon as I left an action, the cops moved in, to either terrorize or harass people at the action.
I had one of my stream supporters listening to scanners hear my voice over the scanner, and I then told the pigs we are watching the watchers. Support heard me say it over the scanner as the channel was open and they were mid convo, which ended with OH SHIT, and no more scanner.
I’ve gone to stream events at consulates, where I normally have full service, to not be able to get online to stream, not from any phone, on any service or portable wifi. We know LAPD has stingrays, and are using them to steal our incoming data, so since they redirect our cell phone, its hard to get data out.
All this, I have seen and experienced, and it took a toll. The amount of state violence I have not only witnessed, but have been personally affected by, even if it is “only PTSD” from a past attack, and minor injuries now.
This is why I was hesitant to stream the LA marches around the Mike Brown shooting. This is why I have tweeted, but not streamed. I don’t want any of the people who end up on my footage to be criminalized because of it.
I don’t want what happened to this kid in Baltimore to happen to ANYONE because of my footage, let alone get paid for that type of thing. Yes, I used to take donations, but I also didn’t work, I streamed full time, and my combined donations from 2.5 years, didn’t even cover one years phone bill. It was just about keeping people connected to what was happening.
But is that connection for others on the outside worth the potential of jail for someone else? No.
I am going to refrain from streaming uprisings, maybe I’ll cover meetings, happy shit, ya know the stuff that no one watches… :) But from here on out, all my riot porn goes to the ACLU Mobile Justice CA App.
And maybe some pics to twitter when I feel like it. Follow me there @lizsavage