Monday, September 26, 2011

Video Analysis- Pepper Sprayed at OccupyWallStreet

The names of three of the women are Kelly Schomberg, Chelsea Elliot and Jeanne Mansfield. If you are one of the original camerapersons for this incident, please make all attempt to contact them; they will need your footage in court.

[btw... one of the girls sprayed was deaf. With her eyes out of commission she was completely isolated from what was happening, and could not see or lip-read to comply with officer's demands or orders. Or even shout for help. Think about it.]

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In the making of my protest video, "Demonstration: A Video for OccupyWallStreet", I have viewed 9+ hours of Occupy Wall Street video, repeatedly, for timing, focus and flow.

I particularly focused on the videos of the women being kettled inside orange netting and pepper-sprayed, because of the horrendous nature of that incident. I have watched in slow(2x) and ultra-slow(4x) speeds in order to understand what exactly is going on.

I am not a professional agitator; I looked with a very critical eye, knowing how things can be obscured on video and how the result can look different or slanted as to what really happened; how video "magic" is made.


I would like, as an artist and video editor, to publicly call bullshit on Police Department chief spokesman Paul J. Browne, who asserts in this NYT article that the pepper spray was "used appropriately" and that "the video was edited." You, sir, are either automatically denying everything or you are a stone-cold liar.

Mr. Browne is obviously thinking of film; he is technologically ignorant. Not to go into intense technical detail here, but besides the fact that the original camera files will be stamped and dated for authenticity, digital editing would be revealed at the bit-level by a good forensic video analyst.

There's an easier way to call bullshit on this lying apologist: there are 4 camera feeds from civilians; on study of the videos, it is also apparent that there are police cameras taking video; I'd like to see those sources too.

The video that started everything is here. This is the one that initially propagated and then showed up in The Atlantic and the NY Times. It's bad enough...

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Here is an analysis of that video, which shows a forward-looking angle from inside the pen:

0:32 - a large black-haired woman who is inside the pen is shown protesting to an officer regarding the rather-heavy-handed takedown of a male protestor in front of them on the street (you can see this in the video and also in the other three videos.) She is shaking the barrier in distress, but is not trying to get over it or rip it down; this is clear.

- the women penned in start shouting because they have observed a takedown (over to the right) of a protester by police ramming his head into a car bumper (this shot is included in my video from the side angle). In the other, viral video, you can see 3 women shouting, "what are you doing?!?!?" and "Shame!" In this video, you can hear either the cameraperson or the woman right next to her moaning softly "what the fuck!?!"

0:56 - camera swings back to the black-haired woman, who is being grabbed by her hair and dragged over the orange netting. The cop has a firm and deep grip on her hair or it is entangled in the backpack strap and is yanking her by it. This is what the women are turning towards in the viral video, with their hands over their mouths in shock and horror.

1:02 - The black-haired woman is dragged and the penned women are taking videos of it. You can see them doing it from the viral video also.

1:06 - Officer Bologna is briefly seen in the background, hands on hips, observing (white shirt)

1:11 - the women are asking what the police want them to do: "Into the garage? Is that where you want us to go?" No one is answering them.

1:23 - the mace is sprayed. This video does not show it, but has excellent sound, allowing for time-matching and progression from the other three angles.

1:32 - the blue shirt on the right says, "Jesus! He just fucking maced us!" which you can see clearer on the viral video but the sound here is clear and unmistakable. That officer is shown wiping his eyes in distress after being oversprayed.

1:40 - cameraperson is turning in circles in panic and shouting out for water for the sprayed women.

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It is simple to match up the timing, sound and shadows from all 4 videos to see that there could be no editing; one or more of the videos would show discrepancies in sky, shadow and timing of cue markers [sound; glimpses of people and objects].

Of course, this is remote analysis; the court will need the original digital files from the camerapersons to be analysed by a videographer. But from manipulating video myself, I cannot see any evidence that these videos were "edited" and I cannot see any justification for the pepper-spraying; neither it appears can the blue-shirt cop who gets oversprayed; he's totally in disbelief.

The videos serve as elements in a multiplexing technique to virtually reconstruct an event. This is exactly the kind of technique used in building 3D and virtual worlds and using those 'surround' cameras; multiple plane and angle views stitched together to create a 360-degree reproduction.

So the word of NYPD Spokesperson Paul J. Browne is highly-suspect. It is a knee-jerk reaction to automatically justify any conduct on the part of any officer, regardless of the evidence or truth of the matter. It's also an incredibly stupid thing to do, showing ignorance of modern digital video, editing techniques and forensic digital analysis of video. Either that, or it's a bald-faced lie. And he's caught flat-footed.

And I'm also calling out The New York Times for its bullshit research in giving this apologist column space and demand a real investigation by the NYT if they want me to continue to believe they are a real newspaper.

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ps: shoutouts to The Guardian and Keith Olbermann
for having the guts to do real reportage and their
continued reporting on this issue. Thanks.

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