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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Did #Ferguson Police Use "Kill Switch" on Livestream Signal The Moment They Created Chaos?

"It keep saying 'no network error'. We had a foreign reporter on the roof with us and she wasn't able to get a signal on her cell phone. And people on the ground were saying 'I can't tweet out.'" -Livestreamer Argus Radio.

Eric Blair
Activist Post

It seems like the police state is using protests in Ferguson as a testing ground for all of their crowd-control weapons. Many are obvious like the curfew enforced by platoons of soldiers, armored tanks mounted by snipers, stun, tear and smoke grenades, no-fly zone, sound cannons, and designated free speech zones and media zones (apparently they're different now). 

However, some weapons are less obvious like technology to kill livestream feeds during questionable police activity. And that's precisely what happened last night according to Ferguson's most prolific livestreamer Argus Radio.



The GIF above, taken from the final seconds of Argus Radio feed from last night, shows the moment the police bum rush the crowd and create mass panic in an attempt to catch someone. Moments later the livestream feed was cut and registered a network error, according to Argus Radio.

The Argus livestream has been filming the protests non-stop for the last week manned by volunteer University of Missouri post-grad student Mustafa Hussein.


A week ago, Hussein reported live "We’ve just been told by 

the St. Louis Police Department to turn off our cameras. We 

will not be turning off our cameras. We will continue to 

broadcast, even if it is at our own peril." So the cameras 

continued to film.

Flash forward a week and on early Wednesday morning just 


after midnight, Argus had no choice in the matter as their 

feed was cut off.  Hussein reported afterward:
As soon as the conflict happened there was an over- 
running of the media station by the protesters who  
were fleeing from the police. We don't know what 
the  agitation was, but we do know that we lost 
signal.

We reset the broadcast three times and it keep
 
saying "no network error". We had a foreign reporter 
on the roof with us and she wasn't able to get a 
signal on her cell phone. And people on the ground 
were saying "I can't tweet out, I can't tweet out."
Use of a government "kill switch" during protests is precisely 

what civil liberties groups warned makes this technology so 

dangerous. It's important to note that this kill switch appears 

to have jammed the cell signal rather than shutting down 

the entire Internet or specific digital equipment. A 

recent California bill requires smartphones to have kill 

switches to prevent theft, but critics worry the government 

can use them to remotely shut off phone cameras and 4G 

access.

Regardless, last night the digital surveillance state seemed 


to merge with the militarized police state in a spectacular 

show of power.

Interestingly, the evening before authorities tried another 


bizarre tactic. The police created what appeared to be a two-

tiered "free speech" zone; one area for protesters and 

another for the press. Protesters marched in circles on the 

street and journalists took pictures from the sidewalk. The 

journalists far outnumbered the protesters and it all seemed 

very staged. 

The police eventually got tired and claimed that everyone 


must disperse, except for the "credentialed media," who 

were allowed to stay. It was eerily similar to journalists 

who're embedded with the troops. As the militarized police 

assault began in the "free speech" zone, many protesters 

hid with media to use them as human shields. Surreal. 

Later, State Police Captain Ron Johnsonsaid that they 

identified credentialed press as those with $50,000 

cameras. Apparently violating the rights of elite journalists is 

forbidden, but crushing peaceful assembly and citizen 

journalists is just fine. Maybe they just can't hack the 

satellite signal on expensive cameras?

The very root of the uproar in Ferguson is the lack of 


accountability for a police officers' actions, and that outrage 

is being met with new and improved ways to hide unethical 

police actions, now including information kill switches. The 

ultimate police state weapon is one that hides its 

brutalityfrom the public, at least until they come to a town 

near you.
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