By now anyone on the Internet is well aware that the New York Police Department's #MyNYPD turned into a predictable but utterly spectacular public relations fail earlier this week.
The department reached out for photos from the community for a social media campaign and was quickly flooded with pictures of police brutality, screaming cops and patdowns. The NYPD's reputation for corruption, excessive violence and racial-profiling frankly made it an easy target.
The department, though infamous, is not the single nor the most nefarious force in the world. Inspired by the success of the #MyNYPD takedown, Twitter users from Mexico to Greece have shamed their own polices forces for acting with violence and little liability.
Responses flooded in on #MyELAS, #MiPolicíaMexicana, #MiPolicía, #DankePolizei and #MyLAPD, demonstrating that abuse of power is by no means a phenomenon isolated to New York. While critics using #MyNYPD detailed the department's use of excessive force and predilection for targeting young men of color, recent global events show that one of the most shocking and recurrent manifestations of police brutality is the crackdown on peaceful assembly and protest.
For the past three years across Europe, anti-austerity protests mirrored after the U.S.'s Occupy movement have repeatedly clashed with police. Anti-austerity protests in Spain turned bloody in 2012, dividing cops and community. Photos of police pepper spraying a woman in Istanbul's Gezi Park protests went viral and briefly became the face of an anti-Erdogan movement. Police have stifled those speaking out against Abdelaziz Bouteflika's fourth presidential term in Algeria, and entire plazas of protesters were gunned down with live fire when Egyptians demonstrated against the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi last year.
And this is a non-exhaustive highlight of some events in recent memory. It doesn't include the Tienanmen Squares and the Rodney Kings. Nor does it include race-fueled brutality in countries like the U.S. and South Africa.
Though these events seem isolated, they are linked by a trend in both a growing visible public dissatisfaction with unaccountable governance and the growing ability for states to operate with impunity under the guise of security and anti-terrorism efforts.
See for yourself the crackdowns that people from these and other locations endure at the hands of forces meant to protect and serve. You'll see that the scenes start to look very similar.