Has the Internet encouraged civilian bravery?

Since the dawn of the Internet, communication has changed completely. In the past, one’s community would include those who resided in the same city. Nowadays, the entire globe has been collected into one big cyber community. Communication not only has reached new places, but has also increased in frequency. Anyone with a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection can become a seasoned blogger. With these changes, a pleasant surprise has come about. The media is no longer the sole source of “truth” concerning controversial events. Anyone can report news, including witnesses. This has led to the conviction of many guilty criminals who would have otherwise gotten off the hook. Such is the case many times with police brutality cases.

This issue actually hits pretty close to my heart. As a skateboarder, I am constantly dealing with police officers kicking us out of spots in the city where we are skating. I have never run into a cop who was anything more than ill-tempered, but others have not been so fortunate. Many skateboarders (often young ones too) have fallen victim to emotional and even physical abuse by the hands of law officers. These officers would have gotten away with their crimes had it not been for pedestrians standing up for the victims by photographing the event or blogging about it to spread the word. One such famous case involved two skateboarders, Brian Baca and Clyde King. They were assaulted by security officers for no reason, and a video of the event later went viral on the web. These two skateboarders were the first to ever win a civil suit against security/law enforcement.

Of course, similar situations have occurred outside the skateboarding world as well. The increased anonymity and exposure that the Internet guarantees has turned some people from passive bystanders to active reporters. Overall, I think we can agree that this is one major benefit of the Internet.

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