Things That Matter

Apparently Cops Are Playing Music While Being Filmed And It’s For A Very Sinister Reason

Over the past few years, cops sure have become increasingly vocal about their disdain of average citizens exercising their constitutional right to record interactions with authorities. It’s almost as if many of them feel they are above the law itself.

Now, some officers appear to be trying to evade videos of them circulating on social media through a crafty — if not exactly airtight — strategy: playing copyrighted music loudly and for long enough to be flagged by automatic censoring software on apps like Instagram.

A report has emerged of police using copyrighted music to trigger social media takedowns.

According to VICE News, a well-known LA activist went into the Beverly Hills Police Department to obtain body cam footage from a recent traffic stop. Sennett Devermont, the activist, did what he normally does during his interactions with police and live-streamed the interaction to his more than 300,000 followers on Instagram.

It all started out friendly and chill, however, things got weird when the officer started scrolling through his phone. Shortly after, Sublime’s hit from the 90s, “Santeria”, started playing and the officer stopped talking.

Sir, you’re putting on music while I’m trying to talk to you. Can you turn that off? It’s a little ridiculous,” Devermont can be heard saying, followed by a sizable pause from Sgt. Fair. “I’m just trying to see how many people are watching this. Since you didn’t answer my simple question, I tried to find it myself,” the officer finally replies from behind a Blue Lives Matter face mask, alluding to their discussion from a few moments earlier regarding how many people might be watching the livestream.

A separate encounter with the same officer plays within the same edited clip near what appears to be an active crime scene. “What — why are you playing music?” repeats Devermont, to which Sgt. Fair teasingly asks, “What? I can’t hear you.”

So is it working?

Theoretically, the strategy could make the videos subject to content flagging, or even account suspensions and bans. That said, Instagram’s content monitoring algorithms are inconsistent at best, and every upload of Devermont’s encounters remain on the social media app.

In most cases, filming on-duty police is an American right protected by the First Amendment. Law enforcement is more aware of this than most citizens, so people like Sgt. Fair and others know exactly what they are doing when they start playing music. The question is whether these are the acts of a few industrious police, or a recommended policy handed down from on high.

Take all this as a polite reminder that it is absolutely legal to film cops in situations like the ones in these videos, and you should feel free to do so if inclined. There are even apps to help you do just that, so don’t let Sublime’s “Santeria” — or any other tunes, even ones you hate — dissuade you.

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