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Ken Paulsen (left), president and CEO of the First Amendment Center, wrote in USA Today that “just as police officers use technology to watch citizens, including patrol car cameras, traffic light cameras and radar to track speeding, the public [also] has a right to monitor the work of officers on the public payroll.”
Perhaps the most memorable and life-altering event in the history of citizens recording police behavior was that moment on the evening of March 3, 1991, when George Halliday, using his Sony video recorder, taped the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. By the time the dust had settled, two of the four officers charged in the beating were found guilty, 53 people were dead, 2,383 people were injured, more than 7,000 fires had been set, 3,100 business establishments had been damaged or destroyed, $1 billion in losses had been sustained, and police behavior was permanently altered.
As Joel Rubin noted in his article commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King incident in the Los Angeles Times, Things are far different and the tape that so tainted the LAPD has [left] a clear legacy in how officers think about their jobs.
Police now work in a YouTube world in which cellphones double as cameras, news helicopters transmit close-up footage of unfolding police pursuits, and surveillance cameras capture arrests or shootings. Police officials are increasingly recording their officers. Compared to the cops who beat King, officers these days hit the streets with a new reality ingrained in their minds: Someone is always watching.
It wasn’t until Simon Glik videotaped a violent police arrest of an alleged drug offender on the Boston Common in October of 2007, however, that courts began to make clear that such recordings are legal and proper and protected by the Bill of Rights.
Glik was walking by the Boston Common on the evening of October 1 when he saw three police officers attempting to arrest a young man using what he thought was excessive force. When Glik heard another bystander yell at the police: “You’re hurting him! Stop!” he opened his cell phone and began recording the event. After the suspect had been subdued and placed in the back of a police cruiser, one of the officers turned to Glik and said, “I think you have taken enough pictures.” To which Glik replied, “I am recording this. I saw you punch him.” The officer then arrested Glik, put him in handcuffs, and charged him with violating Massachusetts’ wiretap law, disturbing the peace, and aiding in the escape of a prisoner.
With the successful conclusion of Glik’s lawsuit and the anticipated similar result in Sharp’s comes the comfort that, for the moment at least, rights granted by God and guaranteed under the Bill of Rights in the First and Fourth Amendments are secure. Constitutionalists encourage citizens to keep their cell phones fully charged and their determination fixed when faced with government officials’ errant behavior.
A. Immunity from Glik's First Amendment Claim
1. Were Glik's First Amendment Rights Violated?
The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative.
It is firmly established that the First Amendment's aegis extends further than the text's proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, “the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.” First Nat'l Bank v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 783 (1978); see also Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 564 (1969) (“It is ․ well established that the Constitution protects the right to receive information and ideas.”). An important corollary to this interest in protecting the stock of public information is that “[t]here is an undoubted right to gather news ‘from any source by means within the law.’ “ Houchins v. KQED, Inc., 438 U.S. 1, 11 (1978) (quoting Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665, 681–82 (1972)).
The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles. 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.” Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S. 214, 218 (1966).
Originally posted by lonewolf10
yeah, i bet anyone they see videoing them still gets arrested for some nebulous charge like obstructing justice, causing a disturbance.....whatever they want.
Originally posted by kn0wh0w
reply to post by HolgerTheDane
I wonder if this could be a new way of making money.
for some it might be yes.
for me it's a way to keep out of line officers, in check.
it's a way too hold them accountable for their deeds.
just as they do to us.