Friday, November 11, 2011

Witness: The Power of an Empowered You

Last night I was at an amazing fundraiser for a cause I've supported since 2000. Witness.org was founded by Peter Gabriel and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. Gillian Caldwell was its Executive Director at the time, and I helped her as a volunteer (along with many others) as she turned it into a standalone org.

Mission Research was created out of that experience.

Witness was started by Gabriel after the live broadcast of the police beating of Rodney King back in, well, along time ago. 93?


The footage was shocking and the uproar that followed was scarring, but also transformative  (short on time so skipping ahead).

Witness gives human rights activists around the world training and technology to effectively document and expose human rights abuses, from Burma to China to the United States, Israel, and Honduras.

The world of video has completely changed since 1993; it is now ubiquitous, and has served activists well. One of the leaders of the Egypt Spring revolution spoke; it was a moving story about how the power of video, social media, and, of course, actual journalism, which was very sparse in the beginning as the major media ignored it.

uStream has taken this to a new level, enabling anyone to become the broadcaster in real time to anyone over the internet.

The more we democratize these powerful tools, the more transparency governments and corporations will be subject to, and the more powerful regular people will be.

Access to the mechanisms of democracy and therefore justice for regular people have eroded, but the rise of these powerful, ubiquitous tools provides a powerful platform of resistance and justice.

Witness continues to be on the forefront and is a cause worth celebrating and supporting.

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