The ACLU Mobile Justice CA App Encourages Californians To Film & Report Alleged Police Misconduct From Their Phone

A new app released Thursday will allow Californians to report video footage of alleged police misconduct straight to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU announced that its “Mobile Justice CA” app, available for Android and iPhone, will allow users to record and automatically send footage to their local ACLU chapter.

What’s the point of a separate app when you could always just record the incident using your phone’s native video app? A look at the app’s promo video, launched in line with its release, suggests that the purpose is to ensure that your video is quickly in the ACLU’s hands before it lands in someone else’s.

The 30-second promo for the Mobile Justice CA app shows a montage of various incidents of alleged police brutality being captured by the app. The final scene shows an app user filming a young man being strong-armed by a police officer. The officer yells at the user repeatedly to stop recording, before eventually charging over and grabbing the phone.

The app allows you to flag the location of the incident you are filming and alerts nearby users, with the idea seeming to be that they can go to the scene and record their own video. This feature may be plenty useful for protests or other events with large numbers of people in attendance. A text report option allows users to explain what they saw in words. ACLU officials then review the reports and video for any incidents that qualify as police misconduct.

According to The Los Angeles Times, similar apps are in use in New York, Oregon, and Missouri. Roughly 30,000 videos have been generated by the New York version of the app, Hector Villagra, executive director for the ACLU of Southern California told the Times.

Mitra Ebadolahi, who serves on ACLU’s project on border litigation, stressed how critical video evidence can be in all cases of alleged law enforcement brutality, including violent incidents at the border. According to the ACLU's app website, the U.S Border Partrol’s use of lethal force has been responsible for at least 35 deaths since its implementation in 2010 and has long-faced scrutiny from civil rights groups. Ebadolahi points out that cell phone video footage of Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas being beaten and shot by a taser by border patrol agents proved to be instrumental in bringing the agents to trial. Ebadolahi wrote on the website that this is a tool to "fight against government misconduct." She wrote:

That can make all the difference in the world for would-be victims of police violence, and over time, can help our communities feel more empowered and safe.
ACLU of Southern California on YouTube

Images: Mobile Justice CA (3)