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tv   Caught on Camera  MSNBC  December 25, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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ordinary people rising up. toppling tyrants. shutting down cities. >> who's in charge of seattle today? >> we are. >> he simply walked up and just started spraying across the line. >> from tahrir square to occupy wall street, video seen around the world. >> medic! >> that stoked the fires of freedom and sparked political change. >> ever since then the camera has been a feature of every protest. ♪
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"caught on camera: revolution." thousands of egyptians storm a bridge, fighting for freedom. 2011 is an historic year as revolutions sweep across the middle east in an unprecedented wave of political uprisings known as the arab spring. >> there are essentially uprisings and revolutions for freedom and dignity. some of them have been against monarchies. some of them have been against republics or republican presidents. but at their heart they're about freedom and dignity. >> reporter: january 25th, 2011. galvanized by the successful overthrow of the government in nearby tunisia, egyptian activists put out a call on the internet for a large protest against police brutality. >> the call went out on facebook, went out on twitter but also went out among the activist community.
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and a lot of people thought this is just another call, and who sends out a facebook invitation anyway for a revolution? >> reporter: the organizers are stunned by the response. more than 10,000 egyptians answer the call, filling cairo's tahrir square. >> and they started chanting anti-mubarak when they saw mubarak's police go out there and beat people brutally and start shooting people dead. and so you had ordinary egyptians going out there and say mubarak must go. >> hosni mubarak is egypt's president, who's held power over the people for more than 30 years. images of the demonstrations and the police response flood the internet. >> mubarak basically unleashed his security forces all across egypt. so for four days he unleashed everything he had. >> four days into the uprising, hoping to stop the flow of information among the protesters, the government cuts off the internet. >> mubarak thought he could wreck the revolution by putting
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egypt on information lockdown. so he literally shut down the internet. >> nora younis is a reporter for the "egypt independent," an online and print news source. on the morning of january 28th nora and a colleague hear about a hotel in central cairo that still has internet service. they try to get a room with a view of tahrir square. >> they said they have orders from state security not to sell any rooms overlooking tahrir. so we said okay and we settled for a nile view room. >> while organizing their coverage of the day's events nora notices something happening outside their window. she grabs her camera and begins to film a chaotic scene coming into view across the nile river. >> we heard many bombs. and we couldn't see anything. and the bombs were just going and going and going. and then we saw smoke coming out from the other side of the river. >> nora's footage shows a massive crowd of protesters engaged in a growing battle with
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police. >> the people wanted to get across the bridge, across the nile to tahrir square to join the revolutionaries in tahrir square. >> a line of riot police led by two armored vehicles races across to meet the crowd. >> and the riot police and their armored vehicles were determined to push them back. and it literally became a battle for this bridge. >> protesters determined, marched forward on foot. police halt the crowd about halfway across. and the demonstrators begin praying. police spray the crowd with high-powered water cannons. and then drive their vehicles directly into the crowd. >> i could see cars running over people and a man getting shot in his chest from two meters. demonstrators carrying other demonstrators and running back. >> the demonstrators prevail and push police into retreat.
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>> and then the protesters came onto our side, and it was amazing, their numbers. >> nora's footage, like so many of the powerful images that are captured during those first weeks of revolution, ends up on youtube and inspires others in egypt and beyond to join the revolution. >> i think it was really the most documented event in our lives. >> just 18 days after it begins egypt's revolution succeeds in pushing hosni mubarak from power when on february 11th, 2011 he resigns. thousands of egyptians celebrate the end of his regime. but for many egyptians the situation does not improve. mubarak is merely replaced by a council of military rulers. and in a few months' time clashes begin again. in november and december 2011
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fighting rages between demonstrators and security forces in and around tahrir square. >> translator: we heard about the disturbances and the gunfire. so we ran to see what was happening. >> on december 17th, 2011 an engineering student named mohammed gamal zadan is with a group of friends outside a hotel in central cairo. >> translator: that time i went up in the hotel and i thought i would try to go in with my colleagues and try to see what's happening and see it from above and try to film it. >> looking through the lens, mohammed sees a group of protesters fleeing from security forces. two of the protesters, including a woman dressed in the traditional muslim abaya, fall down. and are beaten by baton-wielding soldiers. the soldiers stomp on the woman. as the beating progresses, her clothing falls off, exposing her
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undergarments. >> translator: i couldn't believe it when what happened to this woman happened. how did this human being do this? he didn't think that this could have been his sister, his mother? >> it's basically soldiers just gone absolutely insane. there's just dozens of them around this one woman. and a few people who tried to come to her rescue. and they're just beating and stomping on her like she's some kind of wild animal they are trying to control. it's just horrendous. >> after the beating security forces storm the hotel looking for photographers. but mohammed escapes from the area and under a pseudonym uploads the video to youtube. >> if i hadn't done what i did, nobody would have known what happened. even if i had said this and this happened, nobody would have believed it. >> the blue bra woman, as she becomes known, survives the attack but is never identified. the images of her beating
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provoke outrage and appear in newspapers around the globe. her story also sparks widespread condemnation of the egyptian military. in the end the ability of ordinary citizens to upload their videos and share them with a global audience is one of the most powerful tools of the arab spring. >> before we had access to the internet, before we had the ability to upload these videos, you had to somehow be able to gain access to the media, to the regime. and so the people who most benefited from the internet or video are the most marginalized because what it's done for them is it's allowed them to say i count. and when all these is unite together against the regime, that's when you know the revolution succeeds. because for the longest time the regime has worked very hard to tell them you don't count, none of you count, i count. now the people are saying it, and that's why the revolution will succeed. >> coming up -- >> the occupation is here to stay!
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>> demonstrators occupy oakland. until police take action. >> medic! >> when "caught on camera: revolution" continues. i get times are tight. but it's hard to get any work done like this. then came this baby -- small but with windows and office. it runs my work stuff. ...and i can use apps like flipboard for news, or xbox video to watch the shows i'm never home to see... and i can still get work done at the same time. excuse me, do you mind if i... yep. ♪ honestly, i wanna see you be brave ♪
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yep. so you can see like right here i can just... you know, check my policy here, add a car, ah speak to customer service, check on a claim...you know, all with the ah, tap of my geico app. oh, that's so cool. well, i would disagree with you but, ah, that would make me a liar. no dude, you're on the jumbotron! whoa. ah...yeah, pretty much walked into that one. geico anywhere anytime. just a tap away on the geico app.
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protesters occupy cities all over the u.s. >> occupy! >> most of the occupations are peaceful. but in oakland, california one clash with police takes a terrible turn. >> medic! >> occupy wall street, a grassroots political movement opposing the influence of banks and corporations in american life, begins in new york on september 17th, 2011. protesters stage a giant sit-in just a few blocks east of wall street in lower manhattan's zuccotti park and refuse to leave. >> i don't really see how it's our fault and why we should be paying the bills for the
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bankers. >> the occupation of the park is extensively documented by photographers and videographers, and their images spread via the internet and ignite a national movement. >> the message is clear. people have been watching us, and we watch the internet, and we have given a voice to the 99% who feel outraged toward the system that is working entirely for the 1%. >> occupy movements take root in cities all over the u.s. one of the largest crops up in oakland, california. on october 10th, the oakland protesters set up their camp in frank ogawa plaza, the public square in front of oakland city hall. hundreds join in and occupy the plaza 24 hours a day. including berkeley tenants rights lawyer jesse palmer. >> i think people in society feel very isolated. but when you realize that many other people have the same ideas you have and are having the same problems that you have, then suddenly you realize, actually,
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we are powerful, we the people are powerful. >> every hour, every day, the occupation is here to stay! >> after two weeks the oakland mayor orders the plaza vacated because of health and safety concerns. before daybreak on october 25th oakland police raid the encampment, clearing out the occupiers with tear gas. protesters agree to reconvene later that day and march back on the plaza. >> the crowd was a focused crowd. we were there because they had taken occupation and the occupation was something that had been very valuable to a lot of us. we weren't going to just go home. >> police order the protesters to disperse, but they refuse. standing directly in front of the police barricades are two men dressed in military uniforms, including a 24-year-old ex-marine named scott olson.
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olson had served two tours of duty in iraq during which he turned against the war and began speaking out. other protesters, including jesse palmer, are nearby when police decide to act. >> we were in the intersection, and it was actually fairly calm, and then all of a sudden the explosions went off and the tear gas was kind of all around us. >> protester ernest doty, a local artist, is there too. >> kind of out of nowhere the whole mood changed. it got very violent very quickly and just got really chaotic. >> in addition to tear gas, police also fired bean bag projectiles and flash-bang grenades, both considered non-lethal crowd control measures. >> then people of course started panicking. and then to the right of me i saw scott olson get hit. i didn't know who he was at this time. he was just a stranger. and when i seen him get hit, i
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whistled at another guy, and we ran in and grabbed him by his backpack and tried to pull him out. >> scott olson is lying on the ground, bleeding from his head and mouth. >> and that's when that other percussion grenade or tear gas canister came in and blew up. and it blew up right next to his face. >> that was the moment when somebody yelled this guy is hurt and he needs to be carried. >> jesse, ernest, and a few others carry scott out of the street in search of medical help. >> medic! medic! >> what happened? what happened? >> he got hit. >> but he had blood coming out of his forehead and his eyes, his nose, his mouth. and i looked into his eyes, and i spoke to him, and i said, you know, you're going to be okay, we're going to get you to safety, what's your name? >> what's your name? what's your name? what's your name? >> what's your name? >> he didn't respond in any way. and at that point i realized his eyes are open but he's very non-responsive. we were choking on the tear gas
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ourselves. we just had to get him out of there as quick as we could. which is what we did. >> scott is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. >> my injuries were a fractured skull, a fractured vertebra, a fractured orbital bone in my face. i have a cut resulting from it, which has a scar. and then the trauma caused brain hemorrhaging as well as a lot of swelling. >> the swelling causes a traumatic brain injury. and scott's memory of the night is cloudy. >> i was laying down on the ground, not entirely certain what hit me. and when i woke up, i didn't think how badly i had been hurt. >> what's your name? what's your name? >> especially when they kept asking me my name over and over. i could not muster up an answer. i could not do that.
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aside from me getting a shot, the part that really blew my mind is that they threw a flash bang at the people who were trying to help me. i couldn't believe that this was happening in the united states of america. >> for those involved the actions of the police and scott's injury only strengthened their commitment to the movement. >> from that day on i became way more involved in the occupy movement. i actually brang a tent down there the next day and i stayed there for about two weeks. >> i think occupy is revolutionary in terms of how it affects human consciousness because a lot of people were at the end of their ropes and i think they look at occupy as a way to fix the problems that are facing us. >> when people think of revolution, what you mostly think about is overthrowing one kind of government and instituting another one. but there's other kinds of revolution.
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the occupy movement is not just about shuffling the deck chairs. it's about, you know, finding a different boat. >> coming up -- cell phone video captures a dictator's final moments. >> they wanted it over. they wanted it finished. >> when "caught on camera: revolution" continues. piña cola. and when mom said i was going out too much, i swapped it for staying in. [ shouts ] guess who's going out tomorrow. [ female announcer ] swap one snack a week for a yoplait. it is so good.
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the death of a dictator captured by a rebel fighter's camera. in 2011 revolution spreads through the arab world. from bahrain to algeria to yemen. landing next in a very unlikely place. libya. citizens there live under one of the longest-ruling dictators in the world, colonel moammar gadhafi, who's held power for 42
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years. >> libya was one of those countries people never imagined it would see the revolution spread to. because gadhafi was so in control. but i'm a revolution junkie, and it succeeded in tunisia. it succeeded in egypt. i wanted it to succeed everywhere. >> for decades gadhafi was one of the world's most eccentric leaders, known for his flamboyant outfits and his all-female bodyguards. but he was also an open supporter of international terrorism, with links to the lockerbie bombers, the i.r.a., and other militant groups. >> he kept libya under very, very tight wraps. he would disappear people. there was no freedom of any kind. massacres in prison. so he was a horrendous, horrible, brutal dictator. >> anyone who spoke out against him at all would be arrested immediately, sometimes tortured, sometimes killed. >> tracy shelton is a 34-year-old freelance journalist from australia who heads to libya to cover the conflict. >> it began with protests, as in
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many of the arab countries, inspired by egypt and tunisia. people started protesting for more freedom. but the reaction from the gadhafi regime was to shoot protesters, to try and stop these protests with violence. >> the violence that gadhafi unleashed on them was a violence of another order altogether. we're not talking now mubarak's security forces. we're talking about mercenaries. we're talking about jets. we're talking about tanks. so with the libyan revolution the idea of non-violence had to be laid to rest for the sake of libyans. >> the war rages for months. in late august 2011 the rebels, with the help of nato forces, gain the upper hand and advance on tripoli, libya's capital. >> tripoli just fell. within three days they had control of the entire city, which no one had expected. and gadhafi and his whole family fled.
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there was a lot of excitement in the country because it seemed like it was over. >> but it isn't over. not while gadhafi and his sons remain in hiding. until october 20th, 2011. that day tracy shelton is with a group of militia fighters she's been profiling for months. >> that morning some of the guys from the battalion had gone into sirte, and i'd gone in with them. >> around 8:30 a.m. a heavily armored convoy of around 70 vehicles seen leaving sirte, gadhafi's hometown and his last remaining stronghold. >> there were snipers all over the city that were set up to protect the convoy. everybody knew there was somebody important in this group. >> nato forces bombed the caravan from the air. dozens are killed. >> there were a lot of survivors that had run into bushes, into houses in this area. >> as rebel fighters prepare to head to the site of the convoy bombing, shelton asks if she can
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go along. but they refuse. >> that was the only time they ever said no. they told me no, you can't come with us. it's just -- it's really too dangerous in there. >> but as soon as the rebels discover who was in the convoy and what has happened, they send for her. shelton is the first western journalist to arrive at the scene. rebels tell her that gadhafi has been found hiding in a storm drain and captured. >> by the time i got there, i think he was probably already dead by that stage but they were taking him away in an ambulance. the scene was still quite amazing because people were still celebrating. people had -- there were guys who had chunks of gadhafi's hair. they had bits of his clothing, going this is gadhafi's. i mean, the people -- everybody of course was shooting in the air. i asked among the guys, did anybody take any photos, any footage, or anything? one of the guys i knew came straight to me and said yes, i got the whole thing on my iphone, look. >> a rebel named ali algati has captured the entire incident. >> he filmed it from the very
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start. and he said do you want to -- >> the footage, graphic and disturbing, shows gadhafi, wounded, bleeding, and being beaten by an angry mob. rebels cry "god is great." >> stumbling and disoriented the libyan leader appears to ask for mercy as he is dragged, punched, and stabbed repeatedly. rebels hold guns to gadhafi's head. >> they call him a dog and an animal, and they're saying his name over and over again. >> eventually, they lay gadhafi on the ground.
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blood pouring from his head. later photos are released of the former dictator, dead. >> there's no clear answer to exactly who pulled the trigger, but it's obvious it was because people -- they wanted it over. they wanted it finished. >> shelton transfers the footage to her laptop and drives three hours to the nearest internet connection, where she uploads the footage to her editors. soon after, the rest of the world is watching. and reacting. >> the capture and death of colonel moammar gadhafi marked a sudden and unexpected end to the libyan revolution thursday. >> i really did not want them to kill him. i wanted them to put him on trial. i wanted this to end not with revenge but with justice. but a certain part of you also has to feel sorry for this man, surrounded and outnumbered and pleading for his life and yet being killed. but i also saw, unlike all the other tapes that we'd watched in
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which the regime was attacking the people, here it was the people attacking the regime. which was very unusual. >> the video of gadhafi's capture and death shocks the world. it also alters people's perception of the rebels and their revolution. >> people looked at that and they saw the brutality. but before this, they're being reported on as rebel heroes, these civilians fighting for freedom. and then people see this video, which is very graphic and very disturbing, and it changed the way people viewed them. >> many of us tried to remind people who gadhafi had done to libyans. not as a way to justify his murder, because it is murder, but as a way of saying remember what gadhafi had been doing to people for 42 years. >> coming up -- angry rioters
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rock london. >> it looked like the police were losing control. >> when "caught on camera: revolution" continues. by using one less trash bag each month, we can. and glad forceflex bags stretch until they're full.* so you can take them out less often. to help secure retirements and protect financial futures. to help communities recover and rebuild. for companies going from garage to global. on the ground, in the air, even into space. we repaid every dollar america lent us. and gave america back a profit. we're here to keep our promises. to help you realize a better tomorrow. from the families of aig, happy holidays. to share with family. [ woman 2 ] to carry on traditions. [ woman 3 ] to come together even when we're apart.
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[ male announcer ] in stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and more, swanson makes holiday dishes delicious.
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just a minute's government declared the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization. they are blamed for bombing at the police station north of cairo that killed 16. >> former government contractor edward snowden delivered a christmas address on british tv and urged for an end of mass surveillance. now back to "caught on camera." tensions explode on the streets of london. years of frustration boil over and lead to the worst rioting in a generation.
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tottenham, england. august 6th, 2011. >> we want justice! >> when do we want it? now. >> a crowd gathers outside a police station demanding answers about the shooting death of a man named mark duggan. >> the beginning of all this is the shooting of a young man in north london. his shooting by the police. protests as a result of that shooting. the protests then turning into something more violent. >> independent video journalist jason parkinson hears about the protest and races to the scene. >> i'd already spotted on twitter there was a lot of news feed coming out saying there's been a protest in tottenham about the shooting of mark duggan. and there's two police cars on fire outside the police station, and the riot police are moving in. the first thing that i noticed was just how much was on fire. and i mean, we're not talking a few burning barricades in the street. this was entire shops.
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quite a few points it looked like the police were losing control. there's several times that i actually filmed the police riot units going forward with the long shields and baton shorter shield attack units going through. and i'm with the police line. there's just this hail of bricks and bottles coming at you. >> as the night goes on, word of the riots and jason's video images spreads quickly via twitter and blackberry messenger. >> it was like one place would go. then you'd suddenly hear several hours later there's another place in a completely different part of the country. suddenly there was rioting all over. and it just felt like it was a virus spreading or something. >> over the following two days riots break out in manchester, liverpool, and elsewhere across england. on august 8th in woolich, a working-class neighborhood in southeast london, filmmaker mike jelsh hears something stirring out in the street.
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>> we could hear it directly beneath our windows. the people gathering outside of there. so the natural thing in my mind was then to go upstairs to the balcony that overlooks the streets and see what i could kind of get from there. literally using my iphone. >> from the roof mike is shocked by what he sees. >> the funny thing was i see six riot police against however many people there were. and that's kind of where the main section of film begins. >> mike sees police armed with only shields and batons about to be confronted by a mob just offscreen in his footage. >> one or two people start to come forward, brandishing street signs that they've picked up, men at work signs, things like that. the police kind of start to back off and then just this surge of people just come forward and just in a rush. and on the tape that's where -- >> holy [ muted ] hell.
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>> because it is the shock of seeing just this wave of people. then they're throwing things. then you're hearing what they're throwing crashing against the riot shields. and then it was just the sheer number of people that took my breath away. the police were moving back. and then they all retreat. and then you're just left thinking, well, was that actually real? >> after four long days and nights, the rioting sub sides. >> this is really bad. now, this is really disgusting. >> when the smoke clears, many are outraged at the rioters' actions, especially the widespread looting. >> i think it's sick what they've done over a shooting. they've just took it too far. >> but underneath the looters' desire to steal some see deeper causes of the uprising. >> you could point to two or
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three things. one is that initial spot, which was about policing, gave way to a more generalized anger about policing. and that is visible across the cities. secondly, i think what one saw was young people mainly from marginalized communities in our cities. i think that was about their sense of displacement, exclusion, marginalization, feeling in some sense not a part of modern mainstream more or less wealthy britain. >> call it revolution or rioting. the events in london in 2011 make clear that some citizens of england want things to change and change now. >> i think maybe what occurred was a revolution in how people are able to discuss what's happening in their lives. i think there's now a greater level of cynicism. and perhaps even across the country. about how things are run. that's really what's causing these things, the difference between people who have everything and make all the decisions and the people who
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have literally nothing. >> coming up -- >> back off! >> -- the battle of seattle. outnumbered cops crack down. when "caught on camera: revolution" continues.
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a non-violent protest escalates into the battle of seattle. november 1999. the world trade organization, a powerful international group overseeing the rules of trade among nations, gathers in
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seattle for four days of high-level meetings. >> the world trade organization is representing mostly trade interests and non-government organizations and trying to bring everyone to the table to talk about trade. >> as the conference nears, environmentalists, human rights and labor activists, and revolutionaries from across the u.s. and the world converge on the city. the conference also attracts a number of independent videographers, outfitted with new affordable lightweight cameras. one of them is filmmaker mark leave. >> media journalists and media activists from around the country came and participated in trying to start something that would be telling the story of the wto protests from essentially the point of view of the protesters. and so the idea was to put out kind of daily reports about this kind of stuff.
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>> mark's colleague is jeff taylor. >> some would call it advocacy journalism, advocacy media work. i really wanted to be the open eye, you know, and just to open up and document what i see. >> there was really no internet going on. the people weren't really using video. nothing like we have today where you could actually be streaming footage directly online. >> the conference begins on tuesday november 30th. >> who's in charge of seattle today? >> we are. >> by 5:00 a.m. protesters surround the conference center and blockade hotel entrances. police, mobilized in full riot gear, take up positions around the demonstrators. >> right now we're blockading the entrance where most of the delegates are trying to get in. so we're literally trying to shut down the meeting. >> there was a little bit of a party-like atmosphere at that point. but you could see that the police were very, very nervous. >> who are you protecting? >> back off. >> they only had 400 officers on the streets initially, and there
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were i think at one point as many as 40,000 people downtown. maybe more. >> by 8:30 a.m. police begin ordering the crowds of protesters to disperse. >> if you refuse to move northbound on 6th avenue, you will be subject to arrest. >> mark leave is set up at the corner of 6th avenue and union street. >> i climbed up on a mailbox by a street lamp so i could have a sort of overview of the situation. and i saw this one guy who pulled out a big, you know, kind of red bottle. and it looked leek a small fire extinguisher, basically. and this police officer approached with pepper spray a line of seated protesters. and he simply walked up and started just spraying across the line. as he was walking, he was very casual. you know, like it was just sort of like he was out there
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spraying for weeds or something like that. walked across the line, saw somebody with a gas mask, took, it flipped it off, sprayed them in the face. moved on down the line. >> all over downtown seattle police take action. >> crowds were throwing stuff at them, and they started throwing tear gas into the crowds and tear gas canisters. i just was stunned that things had gone to hell in a handcart so quickly. >> i said back off! >> as the day goes on, things go from bad to worse. >> what is the plan today? >> shut down the entire city. >> a small but visible faction of the protesters known as the black bloc, is made up of self-described anarchists, who take advantage of the chaos and
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begin attack downtown stores. >> there were many targets of opportunity for the anarchists, particularly large companies. one of the first places to get hit was niketown. people were climbing over the awning to the building, beating on the swoosh. another, starbucks. windows were shattered. while people were in there. coffee was being looted. >> starbucks is open! >> some protesters feel that the anarchists are undermining their mission. >> you're making a mockery of everything that we're doing. >> please! >> the police declare downtown seattle a no-protest zone and begin chasing demonstrators into residential areas. >> don't [ bleep ] push me. i did not do anything. and that was only the first day. as the week goes on the battles between police and protesters continue and mark and jeff and
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the rest of their media group are busy shooting and editing their footage into daily reports. >> we were getting some of the more kind of dramatic stuff happening. the direct confrontations between protesters and police. >> when you watched the evening news, when you saw the protests happening, the coverage basically told the story that the police were using minimal force, et cetera, and that these people were just crazy out on the streets here and they were just -- they were out to, you know, destroy the city. >> police say it all started with several hundred protesters against the wto, who had left the downtown area. police also say molotov cocktails and rocks were thrown at them. >> and the stark contrast with what we were seeing on the streets. the police really turned up the heat. but you wouldn't have gotten that impression if you'd just been watching the evening news. >> in the end the wto tries to continue its meeting but fails. >> we achieved everything that we wanted to achieve. we shut down the wto. we've been effective. we've been -- we stayed strong.
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we stayed tight. >> it was protesters 1, seattle 0. it clearly was a victory for whatever they were trying to do. they got the attention that they wanted. >> much of the lasting impact comes from the dramatic images captured that week. >> having a camera in a historic event enabled us to share that passion of the protesters who were there, and sharing that with an audience all over the world, actually. >> we need to be able to tell our own stories. we need some control over our own narratives and our own imagery that's getting out there. so ever since then the camera has been a feature of every protest, every major event. >> coming up -- >> they're coming across the
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wall right here. >> the story behind one of the 20th century's biggest moments. the fall of the berlin wall. when "caught on camera: revolution" continues.
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the iron curtain begins to collapse, and nbc news anchor tom brokaw has a front row seat to history. >> you're seeing the destruction of the berlin wall. >> 1989 is a year of seismic change as political revolution spreads across communist-controlled europe. in early november tom brokaw travels to berlin to report on the political situation. >> i went because it was a good story. it was this kind of percolating situation. it was simmering. and you could feel it was going to boil over. >> the giant imposing berlin wall splits the city in two. >> the wall was this sinister
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symbol of the division between east and west. when you went to see it in person, i'd been there several times before, you could never adequately convey the coldness of it on camera. it was this ominous piece of slab of concrete. and we knew obviously about all the people who had paid for their lives trying to get over it. >> the day after arriving in berlin brokaw attends a press conference called by the minister of information for the east german republic, a man named gunter schabowski. >> the room was about half asleep at the time, and then he read this statement from the politburo that all citizens of the gdr would be able to leave and return. and it was as if it had arrived from the moon. did we hear what we thought we'd heard? >> nbc news arranges for brokaw to interview schabowski after the press conference. >> do i understand it correctly, citizens of the gdr -- >> i had an interview with him, ran upstairs, got him to reread the statement --
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>> it is possible for them to go through the wall at some point? >> it is possible for them to go through the border. >> i ran downstairs, and some of my newspaper colleagues were standing there still puzzling over the statement, and i said, i think the wall is down. >> joe alacastro is one of nbc news's field producers in berlin during the week. >> we knew right there we were probably sitting on the biggest story of the latter half of the 20th century. >> then there was a competitive situation, you look around saying cbs is not here, abc is not here, cnn is not -- we've got it. this is our story. >> and the discussion was how do we handle this? and we agreed ultimately we have to go live. >> we interrupt this program for an nbc news special report. here is garrick utley. >> and good afternoon again. >> so we call the bureau and say set up, we're going live with "nightly news" from the brandenburg gate tonight. >> by nightfall the news spreads through the city and crowds gather at the wall.
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brokaw and his crew set up with a view of the unfolding scene. >> are we ready, cheryl? >> back in new york senior producer cheryl gould races to prepare for the 6:30 broadcast. >> we had to put all this news into the allotted half hour. and that's stressful as it is. and then being ready at 6:29:59 so that when 6:30 comes and tom says "good evening" that you're ready. >> if the bird is up i can just throw it to him. >> with minutes to go until the broadcast the crowds and cheers reach a fever pitch. >> there's a guy coming across. cheryl. yeah. after you get done with segment 3, they're coming across the wall right here. >> i remember tom saying to me at one point, "cheryl. cheryl. they're coming over the wall!" and i still get goosebumps when i remember that.
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he was there to record this, to report on it. >> it's amazing. >> we didn't know if they would shoot them. with bullets. that had been the history of that wall. instead, they shot them with water cannons. and so people came over the wall drenched, wet with water cannon fire. they came over the wall with champagne bottles. and west germans greeting east germans. >> they should break the wall down just any moment, i think. >> with no time left to prepare, brokaw must improvise. >> we'd better go live because they've just seen me with this crowd behind me. >> and i said to the control room back here, i'm just going to have to ad-lib this broadcast because i can't follow the script. you know, it's chaos. i can barely hear myself. >> cheryl. >> and right before i went on the air i thought to myself, that old astronaut's line that they had right before lift-off, which was, don't screw up.
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>> nbc "nightly news" with tom brokaw. tonight, from west berlin. >> good evening. live from the berlin wall on the most historic night in this wall's history. what you see behind me -- >> i remember being in the control room watching this, saying can i believe what i'm seeing? there was tom, saying this is happening. he was saying this is stunning, this is just a stunning phenomenon. >> what we were seeing was the destruction of what we had all grown up with in the 20th century. we'd all grown up with the soviet threat. we'd all grown up with democracy versus communism. >> on the other side of the wall young east germans have rushed through the brandenburg gate undeterred by water cannon -- >> we were on the air for five straight hours. >> for almost 30 years now these people have been confined living in a prison-like state governed at every step of their life by the east german government.
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>> tom did not have a prompter. tom did not have a script. he just had the entire history of the 20th century in his head. and it all came out that night. >> sometime after midnight at the berlin wall one of our computer technicians ed lee came running up wide-eyed and he handed me a big chunk of the berlin wall. and he said they were taking it down right before our eyes. so i keep a small kind of iconic piece of it on my desk constantly. i think it represents the shattering of the divisions between people and the collapse of the soviet union and communism as a political philosophy. you can build a wall, but the people will take it down. ♪
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when you're in the danger zone, you'd better get out of the way fast. a landslide terrifies a small town in italy. a sinkhole swallows a street in hollywood. >> this looks like this could be really bad. >> and tons of rock threaten the lives of workers in tennessee. >> couldn't believe what we were seeing. >> in this hour, caution, hazards ahead.

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