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First Circuit Court of Appeals Rules that Citizens Can Videotape Police

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  • John Perna
    First Circuit Court of Appeals Rules that Citizens Can Videotape Police Tiffany Kaiser - August 31, 2011
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2011
             Tiffany Kaiser - August 31, 2011 
    The filming of government officials while on duty is protected by the First Amendment, said the Court

    The First Circuit Court of Appeals reached a crucial decision last Friday allowing the public to videotape police officers while they're on the clock.

    The decision comes after a string of incidents where individuals have videotaped police officers and were arrested. Police officers across the United States believed citizens didn't have the right to videotape them as they conducted official duties, but issues like police brutality put the issue up for debate.

    One instance where a citizen was arrested for videotaping an officer was when Khaliah Fitchette, a law-abiding teenager from New Jersey, boarded a bus in Newark. Two police officers boarded the bus as well to remove a drunken man. Fitchette began taping the police officers because of how they were handling the man, and a police officer instructed her to stop recording them. When Fitchette refused, 
    she was arrested and placed in the back of a cop car for two hours while the officers took her phone to delete the video. Fitchette was then released, but she and her mother then filed suit against the Newark Police Department with the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    Another example involves Simon Glik, a passerby on the Boston Common. He used his cell phone to tape police officers when the Boston police were punching a man. Citizens surrounding the scene were saying, "You're hurting him." Glik never interfered with the police officers' actions, but recorded the entire incident. The police officers ended up charging Glik with violating a wiretap statute that prohibits secret recording, even though the police officers admitted that they knew Glik was recording them. He was also charged with disturbing the peace and aiding the escape of a prisoner.

    While all charges against Glik were dropped due to lack of merit, he still decided to join forces with the ACLU and file a civil rights suit to prevent a similar incident from occurring with others.

    On Friday, August 26, 2011, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which is New England's highest federal court just below the U.S. Supreme Court, 
    ruled that citizens are allowed to videotape law officials while they conduct official duties.

    The city's attorneys made the argument that police officers should have been exempt from a civil rights lawsuit in the first place in this case because the law is unclear as to whether there's a "constitutionally protected right to videotape police" conducting their daily duties in public.

    "The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity].," said the Court. "Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs."

    The Court added that the police officers should have understood this all along, and that 
    videotaping public officials is not limited to the press.

    "Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw," the Court continued. "The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be 
    broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status."

    The Court concluded that police officers are to expect to deal with certain "burdens" as citizens practice First Amendment rights, but that there needs to be a healthy balance between police officers being videotaped while acting irresponsibly and the harassment of officers with recording devices while they're conducting their duties responsibly.

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    Citizens are being abused by politicians via police.  Police are arresting harassing via illegal legislations.  It is now down to "the cops words against yours." YOU LOSE.
    Citizens are starting to arm themsevles with video cameras.  Politicians are now ordering police to remove cameras from town hall meetings
    Police are arresting people for taping them during their interaction with the public.
    Politicians set up cameras every where with the notion, "What are you worried about if you have nothing to hide."  Yet, this notion DOESN'T APPLY TO THEM.  They try to intimidate the citizen from taping them during the 'course of their duty.' 
    As public servants WE EMPLOY THEM. If we want verification that they are discharging their duties correctly then we have the right to collect proof of that.
    SO CONCURS the courts.
    Citizens are being steamed rolled by politicians and criminalized because:
    1) Citizens still haven't caught on to the fact that the politicians have "CRIMINALIZED THEM" for standing up to THEIR illegal activities.
    2) Politicians are WORKING AGAINST THEM not for them
    3) Politicians are making them into servile entities via taxes.
    4) Politicians are trying to criminalize "political dissent."
    Citizens are being visited by police for their political expressions via bumper stickers, painting (Alex Jones is interviewing an artist who was visited by the police for what he painted!)
    Citizens now have to pay attention and KNOW THE LAW. 
    Arm yourselves with cameras to protect yourselves. Especially at traffic stops.
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    Do you remember when it was the people,

    who were being arrested, who hid their faces?

    Police actually arrested a reporter for making videos!

    When police ask for permission to violate the law that governs THE POLICE they are fond of saying

    "What do you have to hide?"
     An example of this would be conducting a search without a warrant, in violation of the 4th amendment.
    Yet if someone makes a video of their conduct they claim some power to arrest that person.
    "What do THEY have to hide?
    What would happen if someone asked THE POLICE for permission to violate a law?
    What would happen if that someone told them that there would be consequences if they failed to grant that permission to violate a law?