LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After two consecutive nights of protester arrests, some people who live stream the events on Facebook have gotten caught in the mix. The streamers, who call themselves independent media, have their cell phone cameras ready at a moment’s notice.
“We’re out here to be the eyes for the people,” Johns Demain explained to WAVE 3 News on Thursday.
They get thousands of eyes on their live streams, known as the “uncut voice of protesters,” giving a live view of what’s happening on the ground. They’re catching intense moments, like when Maxwell Mitchell had his camera going as a shooter opened fire at Jefferson Square Park Saturday night, killing Tyler Gerth.
“This is a new way of being journalistic. There’s new rules to the game,” Antonio ‘T-Made’ Taylor said.
After several streamers were arrested this week, this group of independent journalists says they think police are targeting them.
“They’re watching our live streams, and they know who we are,” Taylor said.
Jason Downey was arrested and charged with misdemeanors Tuesday night while thousands watched live.
“I’m holding my camera. I am standing on the sidewalk,” Downey said. “Was I breaking any rules? To be honest, I can’t tell you, not because I’m uneducated, but because it appears that the rules that we have to follow change every day.”
Downey says radio host Chea K was arrested 20 feet away from him while she was also streaming live. She’s facing a felony rioting charge, compared to Downey’s misdemeanors, although he says they were doing the same thing.
Wednesday night, the group says there was confusion about the rules of engagement yet again. Milky Mess TV was live on Facebook when one of their streamers was arrested for trespassing as they stood next to a local TV news reporter who was not arrested.
"Those live streamers, people who are just recording on their iPhones, they have no lesser rights than the press," Sam Marcosson said.
A UofL Constitutional Law Professor, Samuel Marcosson, says the First Amendment protects everyone’s right to speak, gather, disseminate, and publish information equally, as long as laws are not broken.
"You don't forfeit that simply because you're also involved in the protest," Marcosson said.
Marcosson also addressed allegations that police have been making up charges simply to arrest people recording them. He says if that is the case, it is a serious First Amendment violation.
While some just document, others see it two-fold, protesting and documenting every moment they can to show people who aren't there what's happening and what leads up to certain situations.
"What was the cause and what was the effect? That's what the beauty of live streaming is because you can't miss it, I mean, he [Maxwell Mitchell] goes for hours," Tara Bassett said.
"We captured the truth and the truth is captured, and you can't question that un-edited and live," Mitchell said.
Streamers say they are keeping everyone honest.
"You turn on your body cams, and you look at our live streams and then you tell me who's the aggressor," Demains said.
LMPD says they have no issue with anyone live streaming, but many of those live streaming are also protesting. They said anyone protesting who fails to follow police orders to disperse may be arrested.