In the terrifying, mind-blowing Dark Materials trilogy, the boy Will Parry comes to possess a unique knife that allows him to cut through the universe, through matter and on into parallel worlds all happening, presumably, at the same point in time as Will’s personal reality. Other simultaneous points of existence. Typically, these parallel universes are not all primitive. But they are often brutal and violent.
In Atlanta, of course, we have no literal knife with which to cut our way into the parallel universe of crime and poverty that exists in nearby zip codes. We let the police department or Sam Massell deal with that nastiness, should it bleed over into the other more civilized ATL universe, such as Midtown or Buckhead.
During the June 3, 2010, Thursday night, popular Screen on The Green event, sponsored by Turner, a parallel universe of violence and poverty, chiefly young blacks from, presumably, the universe south and west of the Five Points MARTA station, came to Atlanta’s Midtown area in a melee of violence and wild, maurauding behaviors that some say were targeted at Atlanta’s considerable gay, er, universe. (Careful what you choose to mess with, eh? Some worlds are far, yet more subtly so, stronger than yours. And a hell of a lot richer and well-organized, but that’s not the point of this post.)
Moving towards the point of this post… we DO posses a tool of sorts, primitive as it might be, into the unique parallel world of violence and thuggery simmering so close by us all in metro Atlanta. And we can monitor this universe… should we need to do so. Thus, so can the Atlanta Police Department (APD). The monitoring device is, of course, YouTube.
YouTube is a braggart’s garden of not only virtual, but reality-based delight. If you are surrounded by poverty and disorganization yet happen to have some Internet, a rare and precious thing in some communities no doubt, you can become Master of the Universe with a few uploads of the crappiest video imaginable.
Let’s take the single case of the self-styled “ooowa.” Uploading as ooowa, to something he calls “Bo Tube 1.” His own personal POV of his life, of course. Let’s dissect the factual we can determine solely from YouTube about our boy, ooowa:
1.) For some reason, although there were thousands of people fully equipped no doubt with all the latest video-enabled communication devices at the June 3, 2010 Screen On The Green event at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, not much video has YET to appear on YouTube. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but perhaps other reality-based video accounts will pop-up there. I expect they will.
2.) However, ooowa was indeed at Piedmont Park that night. He was part of a crowd of people moving, once it was dark, towards a street. We know this because his crappy cell cam video captures those movements. It also captures some grainy vague imagery of people crouching along a sidewalk. As if they are trying to hide from something. There was chatter, and chatter only, surrounding the event about gunfire during this melee. ooowa may indeed be able to corroborate, or otherwise, that chatter.
3.) ooowa may be able to corroborate a good deal of what went on that night at Piedmont Park… for better or for worse. ooowa is quite the documentarian… if you choose to examine his YouTube channel. Turns out ooowa has uploaded a heft 46 video clips to YouTube. Clips of his life. Where he lives and how he lives his life. (ooowa loves to BBQ and tape his cronies puking-drunk, for example. ooowa likes to roam around at night where there’s thuggery to be had, taping all the time.) So there’s your own personal subtle knife into a parallel Atlanta universe – in all its, er, glory.
4.) Although unlikely to gain much hard data from ooowa’s two videos of the Screen on the Green fights, APD and subsequent judicial portions and persons, DA’s office, etc., of this post-melee, should there be such and I imagine there will be, will benefit enormously from taking a look at ooowa’s channel. And having a nice long chat with the dude as a follow-up in any judicial proceedings associated with this particular incident. Much to be studied and learned.
5.) Police departments around the country are having a prosecutorial field day within social media environs. Personally, and from a sociological standpoint, I find YouTube to be the juiciest and the most easily-accessed. Vast amounts of social data can be gleaned from even the crappiest, grainiest videos. And like the Gulf oil spill, the content just keeps on coming! Some of it criminal in nature, too.
6.) Of course it requires a great resource of time and effort to cruise through YouTube looking for interesting materials. I haven’t heard that APD has such resources at their disposal. While they may have a cyber division within APD, I’ve not heard much about their efforts one way or the other. Indeed, last time I called APD to report something cyber-related the person I was directed to in the “cyber” division asked me, “What’s a blog?” Then again, that was a couple of years ago.
I hope monitoring of YouTube content at APD has improved since. Because there’s a treasure trove of juicy and dark materials out there with which to do so. Have at it, APD.