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‘We Have to Take Our Power Back’: Black Mothers Rally Behind App Aimed to Protect Against Police Misconduct

A new streaming app called ANJEL Tech, allows concerned parents to see and hear what’s going on with their children during times of crisis by discretely live streaming audio and video on a smartphone. The app has already received praise and support from Black moms who see it as a tool to intervene amid dangerous encounters with police.

“If something pops off, swipe, stream, mommy will be listening, mommy is finding out where you are and she is on her way,” said Tansy McNulty, Founder and CEO of One Million Madly Moms (1M4).

The imagery of a tense traffic stop turning violent and, in some cases, deadly, haunts many Black families across the country, in some cases there is bodycam video and in other cases there is no video at all leaving only the word of police to convey what happened.

The power of video, however, has helped victims of police violence and brutality obtain accountability and land police officers behind bars, including high-profile cases like Derek Chauvin who killed George Floyd, Kim Potter who killed Daunte Wright and Christopher Schurr who was caught on cell phone shooting Patrick Lyoya, 26, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, although Schurr still awaits his day in court on charges connected with the shooting.

“If we had unedited full footage, it would have a better chance,” said McNulty, who has thrown her support and that of 1M4 behind the ANJEL tech app.

McNulty leads 1M4, an organization made up of Black women working to end police brutality. She says once she learned of the ANJEL Tech app, which turns your smartphone into a bodycam by live streaming audio and video, she had to jump onboard.

“If you have video footage that’s unedited, your case is a lot more solid. Can I say you’re going to get accountability? No, I can’t say that’s going to happen for sure, but you have a much better chance when you have unedited video,” McNulty said.

“You can have the world’s most powerful and ubiquitous personal body camera in your pocket, and you can know when and what’s happening to your loved ones, you can see it and know where you are in relations to them,” said James A. Samuel, Founder and CEO of Pluribus and the creator of ANJEL Tech app.

Samuel claims since the app was released last year it has had 40,000 downloads and growing so far. He began developing the app after the murder of George Floyd, the final minutes of Floyd’s life captured on video not only made a difference in the criminal trial of his killer, but made for a lasting impact on the racial reckoning that followed in 2020. Samuel says the use of powerful images and sounds have always been a useful tool to bring about positive change and improve the lives of African-Americans and even resulted in new laws and policy change over the years.

Once activated on a smartphone, the ANJEL Tech app sends a live stream with GPS directions to the person in danger. The app automatically saves audio and video to a secure cloud accessible by the app user.

“In the civil rights movement in the 60s, Dr. King and the Freedom Riders, they showed us, by putting on television, they were able to show by example the types of treatment and brutality and the firehoses and the dogs and the bombings of churches,” Samuel explained of unjust treatment towards African-Americans caught on camera.

McNulty says 1M4 often supports families impacted by police violence, and goes on to say, having extra video evidence would make a big difference for many families they work with. One of the families McNulty has supported is connected to Xzavier Hill, 18, who was killed by Virginia State Police in January 2021 after a high-speed chase. Police claim he refused to follow commands to get out of his car and reached for a gun before they shot him. A grand jury cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing in Hill’s case.

“His mother, Latoya Benton, we have the bodycam and dashcam footage, a version of it from the officers, but it would have been nice to see what happened from Xzavier’s vantage point,” McNulty said.

In April, Benton filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Virginia State Police seeking $60 million in damages, although no attorney would take up her case, so she is pursuing it herself. Benton admits ANJEL Tech would be a useful tool to have as she embarks on her own fight for justice on behalf of her son.

“We definitely need something that footage is recording, and they cannot get to it first and do whatever they want to prior to it getting to the public,” said Benton.

“We have to take our power back, and put the power, I literally have ANJEL Tech on my phone, put the power in my hand with ANJEL Tech and in my husband’s hand and in my children’s hand,” said McNulty, a staunch advocate of the app.

The ANJEL Tech app is available in app stores on iOS and andro, and subscription prices ranges from $5 to $18 dollars a month.

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