How do videos of police brutality affect us, and how should we engage with them?
It’s been a week since the horrific video of five police officers fatally beating Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker, was released to the public. In that time, the officers were fired, charged and arrested for Nichols’ murder, nationwide protests took place and Nichols’ family held an emotional funeral.
But even as footage of a young Nichols skateboarding went viral and offered a glimpse of a man enjoying life, the video of the brutal beating lingers in the minds of many. Adrianna Crossing, assistant professor of applied psychology and health sciences at Northeastern University, says it’s due to the way these videos can trigger powerful stress and trauma responses, particularly for people of color.
“These are natural responses to feeling like you’re in danger, and watching a video where someone else is very clearly in danger––and in many of these videos, the case is they’re being killed on screen before us––can trigger an almost vicarious stress response,” Crossing says.