During a July 1st protest at the Alameda County Courthouse, a cop played a Taylor Swift song on his phone so that footage of the conflict would get pulled from YouTube for copyright infringement.
Via Gizmodo, Sheriff’s deputy David Shelby had been arguing with James Burch, the policy director for the Anti-Police Terror Project. Amid a disagreement about whether a banner constituted a “tripping hazard,” Shelby suddenly pulled out his phone and began playing Swift’s 2014 single “Blank Space.”
“I don’t know why — are we having a dance party now?” Burch asked. Shelby said, “You can record all you want. I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube.”
Shelby was relying on YouTube’s Content ID system, which scans videos against a database of copyrighted materials in order to flag problematic uploads. He intended to make footage of the confrontation unviewable on America’s most popular streaming platform — a “Blank Space,” indeed.
Pop recordings are an increasingly common anti-protest tactic. Earlier this year, a Beverly Hills police officer played Sublime’s “Santeria” while being filmed during a ticket dispute. But it’s unclear how effective this is. The “Santeria” incident is not hard to find on YouTube, though none of the surviving videos have amassed very many views, and it was never taken down from Instagram. Similarly, the confrontation between Shelby and the Anti-Police Terror Project is currently viewable on YouTube and most major social media platforms. You can watch it below.
The July 1st conflict occurred during the pre-trial hearing for Jason Fletcher, a police officer charged with manslaughter for killing Steven Taylor, a Black man, inside of a Walmart in April 2020. According to The New York Times, Taylor had been accused of trying to steal an aluminum bat and a tent. Officer Fletcher was inside of the Walmart for less than 40 seconds and had already successfully tased Taylor when he shot him in the chest. District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley brought charges against Fletcher in part for “his failure to attempt other de-escalation options,” which “rendered his use of deadly force unreasonable and a violation” of state law.
Cop Plays Taylor Swift to Prevent Video Sharing of Him Harassing Protesters ‼️Advertisement
A cop demanded we move #Justice4StevenTaylor banners. We asked him why. He pulled out his phone & played a Taylor Swift song.
“You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted to YouTube." pic.twitter.com/avpf1LUvCd
— Anti Police-Terror Project (@APTPaction) July 1, 2021