When police clashed with protesters in Ferguson, Mo., last year, America watched -- and many watched online. Livestream coverage of the chaos gave people around the world a front row seat to how the community was reacting after the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Now police are taking a page out of the protesters' playbook. On Monday night, the St. Louis Police Department tweeted a link to a feed on the live video-streaming app Periscope from Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, who is the commanding officer for the agency's patrol division, according to his Twitter bio.
— Lt. Col. Troy Doyle (@Tmann69) August 11, 2015
The video, which appears to show the officer watching a group of individuals from across the street, didn't capture the height of the tension that has hit the city in recent days. St. Louis County declared a state of emergency on Monday after protests to mark the anniversary of Brown's death were marred by clashes and dozens of arrests.
While some comments on the officer's feed supported people's right to organize or thanked the officer for giving them a peek into his perspective on the night, others cracked welfare jokes or compared the protesters to animals.
A wave of bystander videos have put extra scrutiny on police behavior over the past year. It seems unlikely we'll see the use of apps like Periscope or Meerkat replace the ongoing call for body-mounted police video cameras, but it's interesting to see the police try to take ownership of an online narrative using the same sort of digital tactics as demonstrators.
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