Police Officer Blasts Taylor Swift's Music To Keep Protester's Video Off Social Media
Ahhh, “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift. A certified 2014 jam, the perfect song for when you're missing your ex, hanging out with your girlfriends, and evading accountability as a member of law enforcement?
Earlier this week, protesters gathered outside of Oakland, California's Alameda Courthouse to support the family of Steven Taylor, a Black man who was shot and killed while having a mental health crisis at Walmart as the police officer accused of killing Taylor had his pre-trial hearing. As the protesters listened to the court proceedings, an officer standing outside of the courthouse approached the Anti Police-Terror Project's (APTP) policy director, James Burch, and asked him to move a banner. As the two argued, a bystander began recording the incident, at which point, the officer pulled out his phone, loudly playing Swift's hit single.
However, the officer's decision to blast the 1989 banger was intended to do more than merely turn the court steps protest into a “dance party,” per the aforementioned bystander's suggestion – it was an attempt to keep the resulting video from appearing on social media. "You can record all you want,” the officer explained. “I just know it can’t be posted to YouTube.”
Naturally, Burch was horrified by the officer's concerning, copyright-minded reaction. "I really, really could not believe what was happening, just how quickly he had taken out his phone. And it wasn't like he had...to load [the song]," Burch told Mashable of the incident. "His phone was pre-loaded to this. As soon as he saw the camera, he grabs his phone and presses maybe two buttons and Taylor Swift is playing...This person was ready for this."
Considering the clip of the encounter ultimately found itself on the video-sharing platform, garnering more than 178,000 views since it was posted earlier this week, it seems the officers attempt to evade internet stardom via hiding behind Taylor Swift failed, due to a few holes – or, well, Blank Spaces – in his plan. As The Verge noted, while having copyrighted music playing in the background isn't necessarily a violation of YouTube's copyright policy, it can trigger the site's sensors that automatically remove questionable content.
However, this is not an isolated incident. There have been several other allegations of officers playing copyrighted music in a seeming attempt to avoid having videos of their encounters shared on social media. Earlier this year, an officer in Beverly Hills was accused of using similar tactics, an occurrence caught on an Instagram live stream. His jams of choice? Sublime's “Santeria” and “In My Life” by The Beatles. Yet it seems the officer's colleauges were not too thrilled with the officer's impromptu DJ set. “The playing of music while accepting a complaint or answering questions is not a procedure that has been recommended by Beverly Hills Police command staff,” the department told Vice of the incident back in February.
As these tactics are seemingly growing increasingly common, as proven by the video posted Thursday, Burch says holding officers accountable is incredibly important in situations like these. “If they're going to attempt to shroud their actions in secrecy, we are going to make sure to let the world know of what the Alameda County Sheriff's Department is up to."