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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Comments

Tell that to billy-bob-nightstick.

Interesting wording, "citizen's". Is that a generic term used in reference to those who inhabit or occupy a space or community or is it a specific term referring to Born or Naturalized Citizens of the United States of America? If the latter, does this, then, give the government official or law enforcement officer the implied authority to inquire as to the citizenship of the photographer/videographer before determing whether that person's activity is within their first amendment rights?

Tell that to the Chicago Police.

"Tell that to billy-bob-nightstick."

Eric,
You will notice that the linked article also had this rather astonishing sentence: "Keene Police Chief Kenneth J. Meola said the First Circuit ruling would not mean any change for his department, because it is in fact legal in New Hampshire to record police in public places despite the fact that arrests have been made for doing just that."

WTF?!?

Mike

I find that the former police officer in me is far more offended than the photographer on the rare occasions this issue arises. No public official should ever fear the vigilance of the citizens they are charged with protecting. To throw a trope back at them: if you've done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide.

I'm with Eric and Marty: There really is a growing disconnection between what the courts interpret as freedom of the press and free speech and what police forces are doing to the people who pay their salaries. Take a gander at Oakland police; Last night, news helicopters were told to leave just before the tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bombs were used on the protesters.

Can't have objective evidence of police brutality, can you? And note that the "objective" media did what they were told and left.

I still have hope for America, though. Jon Stewart still has a show on the air.

Edie

The cops don't have to have the law on their side to arrest or harass a photographer. The name of the game is intimidation. The goal will be to make it such a hassle to navigate through a labyrinthine justice system to clear a false arrest that you will just give up and drop the whole thing.

The case, Glik v. Cunniffe, is accessible at http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/10-1764P-01A.pdf The whole point of the case is that this conclusion is so self-evident that there is no basis in American constitutional law for police believe otherwise.

Ben, the Supreme Court has decided in Chew v. Colding, among other cases, that the First Amendment (and therefore the basis of this opinion) extend to everyone in the US, not just "citizens". It strikes me that the First Circuit's language here was expedient and not intended to limit its scope.

Mike, I didn't read the blog post's characterization of the Chief's remarks to say that his force was making these (illegal) arrests. Rather it was either the blog's commentary or the Chief acknowledging that other police forces may be doing this despite his opinion that it is illegal.

I drove up to Oakland an hour after they started kicking people out. It was a police state. They blocked off streets 2-3 blocks away from the #Occupy Oakland tent city, and with the day just starting, there was no safety in numbers. No protesters on the side. I know if I raise my camera, the next request would be for me to put it down. I have never been so afraid of what my country can become. I drove home in disgust, but I plan to go back this afternoon.

The Tent City before it was destroyed:
http://www.richardmanphoto.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/20111024-11-Edit.jpg

Mike said, "WTF?!?"

I was a reporter for the Miami Herald until just before the Miami riots in 1980, some of the most violent and destructive riots anywhere, anytime, I believe. One of the causes of it was that the Metro-Dade cops were sort of encouraged to "keep the lid on" the black community. So, there was a charge derisively called "walking while black" and also "contempt of cop." The way it worked was this: "Loitering" laws had been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. So, if there was a guy who the cops didn't like, for one reason or another (typically, selling dope, and they couldn't catch him at it, or, radical political behavior that they didn't like) they'd round him up on a Friday afternoon and charge him with loitering -- the loitering law, though unconstitutional, remained on the Miami books. So they'd take him to jail, and he'd have a choice: put up bail money, which would be low - typically, IIRC, about $200. But, these guys didn't have any bail money, so they'd have to get a bail bondsman, who'd charge them ten or fifteen percent to bail them out. The other choice was to remain in the Miami lockup over the weekend, and the lockup was generally considered one of the hellholes of the western hemisphere. Then, on Monday morning, they'd go to court and the judge would throw out the charges (because they were unconstitutional.) The cops would say, "That's up to the courts. We're just enforcing the laws on the books."

In other words, the law was illegal, but enforced, selectively, against people the cops didn't like.

The upshot was, if you were charged with contempt of cop, you either paid the equivalent of a $20-$30 fine just to get bail (bigger money then, than now) or spent the weekend in jail.

Of course, the lid never stays on under these conditions, and eventually a good piece of the town got burned down, and fifteen people killed, after the cops beat a black guy to death.


Billy-Bob Nightstick is bad enough; what about Billy-Bob Glock 9mm? "Discretion is the better part of valor."

In response to the featured comment. That would be unlawful search and in this case seizure, which you can sue for, and win heartily.

I'll go with Marty.

After an unpleasant shakedown by, of all things, the Probation Department of the local County Sheriff's Office, I have learned that law enforcement officers view photographers as The Enemy, and--post 9/11--feel that they have the right to jack photographers around. (And I should mention I was not even photographing the officers. They imposed themselves upon me because they could.)

So it is nice to see a judge reminding Americans--and the police--of that little thing called the First Amendment....

....But I must admit I won't limit myself to a 300mm with 2x extender...

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