Occupy Denver: Police track down protesters' identities using YouTube (VIDEOS)
It's not a new tactic, but for some, it might be a surprising one: One of the ways the Denver Police Department has checked the identities of those faced with warrants for Occupy Denver is through online archival footage, including the average YouTube search. Previously anonymous protesters can be -- and have been -- easily identified through crowd and news coverage of weekend events. Depending on what they're wearing, not even Guy Fawkes masks can keep them anonymous.
"We can use that information from videos to help identify individuals suspected of criminal activity, and that's pretty significant," says Detective John White, a DPD spokesman. "I wouldn't say we use online searches frequently, but if our investigators believe there is some useful information on one of those YouTube videos that could be used to identity someone suspected of criminal activity, we do."
That's how Sean Driggers was caught, at least. Driggers was arrested on suspicion of felony assault on a police officer days after John Sexton had been taken in for the same investigation on the same day. (Sexton's charges have since been dropped.) Although the DPD repeatedly claimed that two felony assault cases had resulted from the October 29 demonstration, Driggers's full name wasn't released for a week before finally becoming public.
In this screen capture from a video below, Sean Driggers is on the right wearing a cap.
Early on in the DPD's statement of probable cause (on view below), Driggers is referred to only as an "unknown male," who, according to the document, attempted to strike Lieutenant James Henning with "a stick" while police removed tents from Civic Center Park. Officers said the perpetrator wore a brown and cream-colored newsboy hat, a brown T-shirt with stripes on the shoulders and blue jeans. According to the statement, he was seen holding the stick, also referred to as a "wooden lathe," and striking Lieutenant James Henning with it.
But how to determine who did the deed? The statement of probable cause explains the police approach: "Detective (Joey) Perez conducted an internet search for any video taken of this incident. He located a video titled 'FAKED STAGED!!! Protesters surround Denver Police who retaliate with pepper spray' on YouTube.com... the aforementioned person wearing the 'Newsboy' cap could be seen clearly."
As far as the actual method of online search, the department remains tight-lipped: "I don't want really want to get into what our techniques are," White says.
Page down to see videos featuring Driggers and more.