With protests continuing throughout NYC, and city and state leaders seriously discussing police reform, New Yorkers are now creating their own resources for the community's benefit. One of these new tools is a free and accessible archive of NYC surveillance footage, compiled with the intent to identify police misconduct.
The archive, which includes up-to-date images from Manhattan and Brooklyn traffic feeds, is open to anyone who needs it. If you see or hear about a police incident, you can check camera footage at a specific intersection by going to the archive with the time, the borough and specific location in mind.
The files are organized in hourly folders—year/month/day/hour—and each folder contains the camera ID, borough and location named in the files. You can read more about how to access them here.
Aakash Patel, with help from NYC Mesh, a group of volunteers aiming to extend high-speed, reliable internet to all New Yorkers, created a tool that saves images from NYC Department of Transportation's traffic cameras. Those cameras feed their livestreams onto the DOT's website and are open to the public already, but aren't saved for the public to view after the fact.
Patel hopes to expand the archive to include all of New York City, rather than just Manhattan and Brooklyn, so that there's another useful source of visual evidence for incidents.
He said he was inspired by Darnella Frazier, whose recording of George Floyd's death "sparked a global movement."
He also cited the arrest of a CNN journalist on live camera, the use of military-grade weapons used against peaceful protestors thanks to the hundreds of people who filmed the June 1 Lafayette Square rally, and the video of Martin Gugino getting pushed by police in Buffalo.
In an email to Time Out, Patel said the final straw that motivated him to create the video tool was when an NYPD car ran through a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn.
"Since it was in a public space, there were likely traffic cameras near, and if someone weren't recording on their phone we'd never seen that event," he said.
Patel hopes to work with the DOT to get an official camera feed, which would make more footage available, from more cameras, "so the benefit is seen in more boroughs for more people."
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