AFTER A FEW hours of watching livestreamers E-Poemz or Johnny Dangers on February 22, 2017, you might have felt like you knew them. Their voices, narrating livestreams of the slow-motion eviction of Dakota Access pipeline protesters from a Standing Rock protest site (on land claimed by the Army Corp of Engineers), became familiar. For those viewers not accustomed to police at protests, it might been a shock when officers tackled and arrested E-Poemz, possibly seriously injuring him. His livestream ends with a sideways shot from his camera lying on the ground.
E-Poemz and Johnny Dangers are the latest in a growing group of livestreamers bringing people from far away to the front lines. During the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, sites like Ustream featured streams from activists and the hardiest of reporters. Today, activists and groups like Last Real Indians and Lakota People’s Law Project are broadcasting on Facebook alongside teen fashion bloggers, major news sites, and more. Livestreaming has arrived as an everyday Internet tool.