The activism never stopped. But the attention to it vanished.
As the video begins, Edward Minguela, 32, is standing on the sidewalk. His hands are in the air. Three Camden County, N.J., police officers approach from all sides with their weapons drawn. They’d received an anonymous tip about a man with a gun. Minguela, who seemed to fit the description, is unarmed. The first officer to reach Minguela grabs him from behind and slams him to the ground. The officer then curls a fist and starts punching — landing a dozen rapid blows to Minguela’s head as two other officers help pin the man to the ground.
This shift comes as many of the young activists who gained prominence after the Ferguson, Mo., protests have changed their tactics. While some of them initially disavowed the formal democratic process, many during the past two years have begun efforts focused on bending the political system from within. St. Louis activist Kayla Reed and political strategist Jessica Byrd helped launch the Electoral Justice Project, which has held town halls and voter registration efforts in dozens of cities. Writer and activist Shaun King last month started a political action committee aimed at electing progressive, smart-on-crime prosecutors, sheriffs and judges.
A surveillance camera mounted to a nearby liquor store captured the Feb. 22 beating frame by frame, the latest addition to a familiar genre stretching from Rodney King to Alton Sterling.
Unlike those other videos, you probably haven’t seen this one.
It can be hard, understandably, to focus on things that feel like they aren’t happening. And we don’t lack for alternate storylines: hurricanes that wrecked Houston and Puerto Rico, homicidal white supremacists in Charlottesville, and a massacre in Las Vegas that ranks as the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Still, if we collectively care about an issue only when the streets are literally burning, it’s reasonable to wonder if we actually care at all.