As detailed by the likes of great journalists and constitutional lawyers like John WhiteheadRadley Balko, and Will Grigg (just to name a few), in the past 30 years American law enforcement agencies have morphed into federally-funded paramilitary units whose often-deadly actions receive incredible amounts of protection and immunity.

Almost daily, there are incidents of police conducting illegal cavity searches at traffic stops,dogs being shot, local sheriffs ignoring laws that expand individual freedom, murders of the mentally handicapped, wrongful convictions by hawkish prosecutors, and countless stories of innocent people being on the wrong end of the state’s enforcement arm. All of these heinous acts, and the police’s opposition to any legal restrictions on their powers, are masked by the holy writ of “officer safety.”

The most important weapon in the fight against these police abuses is the ability of the internet to turn local stories into national ones. The cell phone (or dash) camera, combined with the interconnectedness of the web, has replaced the musket as the best defense against government abuse. Thanks to this, millions and millions of people are now able to see the reality of what police departments have turned into.