CHARLOTTE, N.C. A protester looked at Nathan Grant and gestured behind him. Police lined the streets during the Tuesday night protest march through uptown Charlotte.
“They don’t care what we have to say,” the protester said. “Our voices are silenced.”
We have 600 viewers online, Grant told him.
He had captured the conversation and the entire protest march on his live stream.
Grant and other protesters around the DNC this week have adopted social media to spread their message to a wider audience.
“It’s revolutionary,” Grant said. “Streaming’s been around for a little bit, but having it here on the front lines is brand new. I love it.”
Several protesters on Grant’s live streams can be seen holding smartphones, taking pictures and recording video. Others have tweeted while protesting.
Grant joined with a group of live streamers in New York City. The group broadcast around the clock and had a webcam set up for protesters to talk about why they were there.
“It really was beautiful, and it helped document all these little stories,” he sad.
Grant was a film major before graduating with a degree in English from Ithaca College last year. He considers himself a photographer and thinks about the composition of his shots when he’s live streaming.
He joined the protest because of student loans, but when live streaming he sees himself as a journalist. Grant admits to having bias. He’ll put the camera down rather than show one of the protesters do something illegal, but he also avoids doing things that could get him in trouble or arrested.
One of his goals, he said, is to “decentralize media.”
“I see myself as someone who’s making everybody’s voices louder on an independent level,” Grant said. “There is bias involved and I do find myself stifling opinions that I have because I don’t want to be that kind of reporter. I want people to be able to watch my stream and be able to figure it out for themselves.”
Grant uses his iPhone with a Ustream app to broadcast the protests. He carries a messenger bag with a mobile Internet hotspot and two external batteries that he says would allow him to live stream for about 24 hours straight. The longest he has gone is 14 hours. He uses a Samsung smartphone for tweeting.
While he’s streaming, Grant interacts with his viewers and Twitter followers.
“The equipment is there,” Grant said. “The technology is there. We’re given such power of communication with the Internet – we need to use it.”
Bill Knox, 45, of Charlotte, found the live stream on Twitter. He emailed Grant and met him at the Occupy camp in Marshall Park Thursday. He enjoyed being able to follow the protest from his couch.
“These protest movements intrigue me,” Knox said. “Not by any stretch of the imagination am I a protester, but I’m intrigued by it.”
Grant thrives on emails from people like Knox, who appreciate the broadcasts and donate through his Ustream account. “It keeps me going,” he said. “I would stream if I had two people watching.”