Politics

Can Police Take Your Camera at Protest? No!

| by Jerome McCollom

Police in New York City aren't known for their respect of civil and constitutional rights. You can be arrested now for the made up crime of filming cop. Well, cops are also taking cameras. Flux Rostrum is a filmmaker who was filming a protest against the Mexican consulate in NYC, over a murder in a Mexican city. Rostrum was jumped  by police and indeed, a NYPC captain who shouted "I want that camera."

Did the captain try to get a warrant to search or seize the camera? No, in today's world, warrants are an option for many police, not a necessity. When Mr. Rostrum went to complain at a police station, he was threatened with arrest by a police lieutenant! So much for public service.

Brian Kelly, a man in Pennyslvania was pulled over for drunken driving. He was charged with the more serious crime of wiretapping, but wiretapping does not involve filming an interraction with a police officer who has the power to arrest you.

Michael Gannon, who indeed had a sign on his porch stating to people they might be videtaped, was arrested at a police station when he went to complain about police mistreatment. Again, the "crime", wiretapping. Good thing those cops 60 years ago beating civil rights protestors over the head with batons, didn't think up this made up charge against journalists who filmed them.

In Newark, NJ police try to intimidate two journalists in order to have them give up all photos they took of a crime scene. Indeed they tried ordering them not to publish the photos. Do you need to read the U.S. Constitution before you become a cop in some cities? Cops can't order journalists not to print certain photos! That would be like a cop ordering me not to write this column.

I still can't believe there are police, DAs', judges and legislators who supporting this gross abridgement of our rights. This is not North Korea, after all. 

In one case involving filming police in Los Angeles, the police officer is told (correctly) that it is not against the law to take pictures of the officer while on the sidewalk. There is no expectation of privacy in public.

The cop says, "I do not care." The officer also states he was a marine and was "shot at for you", referring to the citizen. Yes, but what does that have to do with making up the law? I was in the military also, can I just make up the law at my whim?