Protests, Livestreaming and Lessons Learned

There is no baptism like a baptism through fire, and as a livestreamer, that is your vocation: to throw yourself into the fire and reveal to the world reality as it unfolds, with great risks to your safety, your liberty and (perhaps) your own livelihood. In essence, that is what livestreaming is. If there is anything else aside from the evolution of public dialogue, which is often accredited to the Occupy movement, the revolution of news casting and journalism can be accredited to that institution as well. Out of Zuccotti Park, individuals such as Timothy Pool, Nate Grant, Victoria Sobel, Thorin Caristo, Matt Hopard, Jake Roszack and Elizabeth Arce (to name a few) can say they established themselves as raw, hard hitting, independent journalists delivering news close up and in real time, providing a legitimate alternative to mainstream news that has been so long reactive and distant. I am honored that some consider me to be among such pioneers, however the greatest honor is to display situations in real time and allow my viewers to formulate their own opinions, as opposed to feeding them prefabricated opinions to fulfill a political agenda.

I myself did not begin livestreaming until April of 2012. After watching youtube shorts that I made of the NYPD abusing their powers of law enforcement, Thorin Caristo invited me to co-host "Occupied Air" with him. Our most notable work together (as a team) was our
coverage of the NATO protest in Chicago. The work behind that endeavor, to sum up, in short, was intense. On one specific day, while I was streaming, I found my self in the middle of a scuffle between police and protesters and I was punched inadvertently, as the protesters attempted to take Haymarket street. An hour after the previous ordeal, I was nearly trampled by a mounted police officer, while I was streaming between the lines of protesters and mounted police (this was during an infamous moment when a horse nearly collapsed from
dehydration). Later on, that day, I myself, did actually collapse from heat exhaustion while streaming. It took me the better part of two hours to muster up enough strength to rush to the other side of Chicago and hand the stream off to Thorin, who covered the night marches. On that particular day we had thousands of views.

At the end of June, Thorin was infected with Lyme Disease and asked me to host "Occupied Air." I accepted. I covered the "Occupy National Gathering" in Philadelphia, working on four hours of sleep for that function (one time I actually slept in gravel while it was raining) to cover every march with the exception of one. At the conclusion of the "National Gathering," I walked every mile and covered roughly 70 percent of the "Ninety Nine Mile March" from Philadelphia to New York City, in sweltering temperatures, battling tendinitis in my left foot. Two weeks later, I was in Washington D.C., covering the international AIDS conference, having a run in (and scaring away) the Westborough Baptist Church at Arlington Cemetery. I also interviewed Washington D.C. Tea Party personality Lisa Miller, and covered protests against hydro-fracking. In August I covered a shooting at the Empire State Building, arriving on the scene before main stream media, and interviewed one of the witnesses. Later that month I was in Tampa covering the Republican National Convention protest, livestreaming in heavy winds and rain from the residue of Hurricane Issac, while facing down entire battalions of riot police as protesters peacefully defied them as they performed a sit in on a massive intersection. During the first week of September I was in Charlotte at the site of the Democratic National Convention, doing the exact same thing (with oddly enough, more rain) After the DNC, I handed "Occupied Air" back to Thorin and started my own stream "ThePellaReport."

Not even after a whole month of "ThePellaReport" being a channel, to expand my portfolio as a livestreamer and as an independent journalist, I decided to cover protests and demonstrations in California. I only managed to cover a single protest in San Francisco. During this single protest that I covered, due to the irresponsible actions of some during this protest, after my phone was knocked out of my hand, I was assaulted and arrested by San Francisco Police when I made an attempt to pick my phone up off the ground. As far as the rest goes, that is another story for another time. In response to this single demonstration, having been on both sides of the camera as a protester and as a journalist, I am appalled by some of the actions that occurred on that day. The inequities of the system are beyond evident, however the quickest way to validate the system (despite such inequities) is through vandalism and violence, which always creates more problems and never resolves them.

This year has not been easy for me. Despite finding a vocation that I am passionate about, and being an active participant in the revolution of journalism, it has come at a cost to my health, as I deal with constant back pain, tendinitis and shoulder pain. Such has also come
at a cost in terms of my relationship with my family, who have been burdened with my absence. Livestreaming the news, at this point, is still a revolutionary concept, which is accompanied by the risk of danger. We do not get paid (aside from donations) we do not
have benefits, or a pension, or insurance. What we have is a mighty sense of social justice and the desire to keep putting our well-being at risk to deliver the news as it should be... Close up and in real time!

The future of journalism has arrived, and it can be found in the hand of a livestreamer.