New media continues to change social movements whether through a hashtag rallying cry or police brutality filmed on phones. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Ella Baker Center are coming together tonight in downtown SanTana to see how analog and digital forms of freedom fighting can intertwine. "Mobile Justice: OC Edition" presents featured activists, including one of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter!
The event at the Grand Central Art Center in downtown SanTana revolves around performance art and music. "For us its just a creative way the engage to community beyond lectures and forums," says ACLU Southern California's Marcus Benigno.
The civil liberties group already created the Mobile Justice app in the wake of high profile deadly police encounters caught on smartphone video recorders. The app has already been downloaded 100,000 time nationwide. It allows people to record police encounters and send them safely over to the civil liberties group before the po-po can do anything.
In addition to an informational video on the ACLU's Mobile Justice CA app, relevant performance art will take center stage. "Protest: Then and Now," features Patrisse Cullors, an artist, activists, and one of the black women who co-founded the #BlackLivesMatter movement that's re-centering the national discussion on racism in the U.S. She's also working with the Ella Baker Center in tandem with the ACLU in rolling out the Mobile Justice app statewide. Cullors performs the piece with Damon Turner, an LA-based artist and activist who founded GREEDY City (a Generation Righteously Enduring to Eradicate Dying Young).
Jimena Sarno contributes her provocative "We are not all in this together" audio collage presentation culled from Ferguson police radio calls during the city's most trying times last year.
"The use of social media is opening the gates to something that's been occurring for decades," says Benigno of police brutality and protests. "It's just amplified the message making it more visible. The question is what do you do with it?" The ACLU envisions organizing around the app by creating a network of nine justice teams in counties across California. People who document police misconduct need access to resources in the realms of media and the courts. The local OC group they are hooking up with is the Just Love Coalition.
"We'll have a talk back at the end with the artists to discuss the role of tech in black lives," Benigno says. "It's all very new to everyone and a work in progress."
Mobile Justice: OC Edition at Grand Central Art Center, 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, Tonight, 7:30-9 p.m. $10 suggested donation.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2