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Recent Court Rulings Could Mean Jail Time for People Who Film Police

Matt Agorist
July 13th, 2021
The Free Thought Project
Comments (20)

This article was originally published by Matt Agorist at The Free Thought Project. 

George Floyd, Eric GarnerAlton SterlingAlexander GonzalesWalter Scott. and countless others all have one thing in common — their last moments alive were captured on cellphone videos as police killed them. These videos and others like them led to charges against those involved, with some of them putting killer cops in jail for a long time.

Not only did these videos lead to charges against cops but they showed the world the reality of police many interactions and how the escalation of force can and will result in the death of those accused of petty offenses.

Monsters with Human Faces: The Tyranny of the Police State Disguised as Law-and-Order

Filming the police, as the Free Thought Project has stated over the years, is a major tool in holding violent and killer cops accountable. However, a couple of recent court rulings have free speech experts worried that the person who films the next Eric Garner or George Floyd — may end up in a cage for it.

From Law 360:

The Tenth Circuit ruled in March that Denver police officers are immune from a lawsuit alleging they detained a man and searched his tablet after he video recorded them arresting a suspect. Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in May found in a similar suit that Boynton Beach police were justified when they arrested a mother recording her son’s arrest.

Both decisions sidestepped the issue of whether citizens have a constitutional right to record the police in public, according to experts, who say the courts have generally affirmed such a right.

But the rulings, which several of these experts called “outliers,” further confuse an already unclear area of the law, and some attorneys worry they could discourage people from recording police misconduct or encourage officers to try and stop those who do press “record.” And that could hamper recent efforts at police reform, which have largely been propelled by these videos.

One of these cases could even find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to experts.

“We all know that the Black Lives Matter movement and the movement to defund the police would not be anywhere near where they are today without cellphones and other recordings of interactions with the police,” said Emerson Sykes, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

“Where’s there’s documentation of misconduct,” he added, “that has to be protected.”

Experts refer to the aforementioned cases as “outliers” as they fly in the face of the majority of court rulings which affirm a citizen’s right to record police.

As TFTP has reported, it has been clearly established multiple times that all Americans have the right to record the police. For an officer or officers of the law to remain willingly ignorant of this precedent is at best, dereliction of duty, and at worst, unlawful deprivation of rights. Nevertheless, it happens all the time.

Without citizen video, the country would still be in the dark about the nature of police violence in the land of the free and thanks to these outlier cases, we could possibly revert back to that darkness.

“Without recordings of police, one can’t imagine that we would have as much progress in the movement for racial equality as we have now,” Sykes said, according to Law 360.

But that progress could be jeopardized by decisions like the ones in the Tenth Circuit and Florida. It’s already “very difficult” to hold police accountable for misconduct, especially when it comes to the “blurry line” between recording police and interfering with them, Sykes said.

And those two courts may have just made that line blurrier, experts say.

“Any time that we’re not establishing clear rules for the police and the public, it’s going to deter the public from exercising their constitutional rights because they don’t know what is and is not protected,” Scott Skinner-Thompson, a University of Colorado Law School professor told Law 360.

Indeed.

These recent court rulings, though outliers, highlight the tendency of the state to shield itself from transparency. On top of these two court cases, the state of Oklahoma is pushing a bill that could have a similar effect — film the cops, go to jail.

If House Bill 2273 is passed into law in Oklahoma, those who post photos or videos of police online could end up in jail.

According to the legislation, someone could be arrested if they post to an online site “the information of a law enforcement officer with the intent to threaten, intimidate, harass, or stalk.”

According to the bill, this includes “name, address, phone number, Social Security number,” or “a photograph or any other realistic likeness.”

The bill goes on to say, “and as a result, causes attempts to cause or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress or financial loss to that person, or to that officer’s family or household member or intimate partner.”

The first offence would be a misdemeanor followed by a felony on the second offence.

Like the two court cases, this bill in Oklahoma blurs the lines of filming cops which tends to always benefit the state. So long as the act of filming police in public is up for interpretation, the potential for persecution exists.

 

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    Author: Matt Agorist
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    Date: July 13th, 2021
    Website: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/

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    20 Comments...

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    1. No police killed George Floyd the guy that sold him the fentanyl did.

    2. Anonymous says:

      If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

      That’s what they -various authorities- like to tell us.

      But does it work both ways?

    3. cuz muh “heroes”

      This is why you constantly hear the pundits and politicians praising any uniformed government employee as a hero. Keeps the uniforms on their side. Brainwashes the public into believing they can do no wrong. That manufactures public consent for these type of “laws”.

      One of these cases will probably go to the Supreme Court where the justices will uphold it or just bounce it back to the lower court.

      Because Trump hand picked them, ya know…

      Bwah hahahaha…

    4. Bill says:

      I have nothing personal against persons just because they are police officers. I know it has become cliched to say cops are like any other – that there are a few bad in every other type of occupation. But few other occupations have the potential to affect people’s lives, even wreck them. Therefore, there must be concrete safeguards to protects citizens from possible overstepping of police, because unfortunately, it does happen.
      It’s human nature to not like being scrutinized, or filmed, but the rest of us are being recorded almost non-stop when we are in public, and that footage is certainly used to hold us accountable, why not the same measure for police. The truth is, police are agents of the State, and the State does not like being held accountable, especially with video that is irrefutable. I assure you if there was no footage of the recent police abuses the results would have been far different. Compounding this fact is that everyone can record now and the video seen by millions in moments. When the ability exists to hold the State accountable it inhibits its power. Even though the courts have ruled one has the right to record police, I’ve always believed that eventually this practice will become intolerable to the State, and that it will somehow be stopped.
      The State has a irresistible bent to become ever more authoritarian, that is its nature. The US is no exception. Regardless of popular calls to defund the police this will not happen, at least not for long, this is a naive sentiment. Rather, we will see in the coming years more and more police presence (along with the never ending efforts by the State to curtail our rights).
      The MSM, the propaganda arm of the State, always and only airs footage of police misconduct against minorities. However, there are far more instances of abuse to non-minorities which is rarely publicized, if ever publicized. This is because ultimately the State does not regard minorities as a threat against the State, only non-minorities, therefore they must be vilified. The courts have shown a clear bias in rulings for minorities and rulings against non-minorities.
      An example of recent MSM’s selectivity is South Africa this week; crime, violence, massive looting, destruction of property, and blacks killing blacks have has become so pervasive across that country that social order is breaking down nationwide. Nothing, or almost nothing in the news about that – surprise, surprise (many videos of the unbelievable chaos there can be found on-line).
      Another special right police have is called “qualified immunity”. QI means that police enjoy immunity from civil liability for acts which violate citizens civil rights if it can be shown that the violation of rights did not violate the “clearly defined” statutory or constitutional rights of which a “reasonable person would be aware”. That is, where it has been interpreted that police violated an “established” statutory or constitutional right. This sound good, but it is chock full of legal mischief. I always found it hypocritical that authorities enjoyed QI, yet prosecute an individual even if they were unaware they were committing a crime (the authorities always say ignorance of a law is no excuse). The State always stacks the deck against the citizens.

      • Between Three Centuries says:

        There are no good cops, because if there were, there would be no bad cops.

      • Frank Thoughts says:

        You are right about the selectivity on race and crime. South Africa is aflame with unrest, mostly by black people (the Asians like the whites are stuck trying to defend themselves). But will you see much of this on the news? Very little I suspect.

        A global black uprising is now plaguing most countries. We make the mistake of placating it over and over again with trinkets (flat screen TVs, smartphones, food stamps).

        The censorship covers up the murders, rapes and thefts that are the daily diet of black communities.

    5. Frank Thoughts says:

      Police officers deserve respect and privacy as well as law breakers. These cell phone videos are usually edited to escalate the situation and give no context (ie: in George Floyd’s case that he was a violent felon and was violently resisting arrest).

      Most police forces now have body cams and this gives the full picture of the arrest.

      The difference is clear: the police officer is a trained professional doing a lawful job; the law breaker took a risk when they broke the law. As in the case of Floyd, the officer was doing EXACTLY what he was trained to do. Criticise the training by all means but realise he was restraining a very violent man on drugs.

      The cell phone videos have done far more to undermine law and order and provoke unrest and harm than they have prevented. Literally billions in property damage and thousands of assaults, rapes, and even killings.

      We should be thankful brave officers step out into harm’s way every day to protect us. Many are not paid well enough to justify the risk. I challenge anyone to patrol a dark highway at night knowing anyone you stop could have a weapon and try and kill you. It doesn’t help when people spread toxic garbage and hate against officers because they are angry about something that happened 150 years ago.

      Society needs more respect and law and order, not less.

      • Anonymous says:

        “As in the case of Floyd, the officer was doing EXACTLY what he was trained to do.”

        WTF? This white chimp decided to play king-of-the-hill and perched on top of Floyd for over 9 minutes. You do get that? Over nine minutes? Various footage shows his head at a decidedly strange angle.

        If you watched the same video I did, Floyd was clearly in serious physical trouble from the start. There was plenty of time to get narcan and help this man. The cop should have gotten life without parole.

        And no, I’m no freakin’ commiecrat. I’ve simply had enough of the clearly criminal conduct from our paramilitaries (aka police) that appears to get worse every year.

    6. Between Three Centuries says:

      I guess that means you can no longer post pictures of Porky Pig or Arnold from Green Acres. All pictures of Nazis could be misconstrued as a picture of some cop somewhere. Dogs, rats and snakes can not be posted either.

    7. Noel says:

      Actually Frank Thoughts, there is no law that requires law enforcement to use body cams, they only use when they want to. Meaning they can be turned off, or deleted so cases just get dismissed instead of charges against the police. Police reform has been needed for 50 plus years in this country. The idea that citizens can’t record the police is ridiculous, and if your job is too hard you can quit and work somewhere else. How can a video undermine the truth? If you don’t want to be recorded, don’t be a law enforcement officer. If your enforcing the law, you should be held accountable to the same law and set of rules. Regardless of how violent someone is, once they are in cuffs, you don’t need to pull them out of a police car and put your knee on his neck. A common sense police reform needs to take place in this country, or it’s only going to get worse.

    8. Anonymous says:

      Journalists have a First Amendment right to film in a public place, and all American adults have a right to be journalists.

    9. e3mrk says:

      As I recall the SCOTUS already ruled on this making it perfectly legal to film the police as long as you are not interfering with them doing their job so the lower Courts ruling would be invalid.

    10. Christian Soldier says:

      Are there bad cops…sure…do they need to be held accountable…sure…

      yet you are praising thugs…wrong doers…if you want to state your case, dig up those killed or harassed by cops that are law biding citizens.

      Fact is these thugs were killed by none other than the Lord God…for He ordains all life…

      I’ll leave you with the words of the beloved Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

      Luke 12:5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He (GOD) has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

      Receive Christ now and fear not.

      Confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart He was raised from the grave and be saved from eternal suffering and torment.

      Praise be to GOD, One in Three, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to Him be the glory forevermore. in the precious name of Jesus, amen.

      • The Truth says:

        Yep they worship the Criminal thug on fentanyl and who had heart problems and was high as a kite AND committing a crime! The Thug died of his OWN DOING! He started resisting and caused a lot of problems. Floyd was a REAL LOSER!

        • Frank Thoughts says:

          Agree: I have watched so many of these videos and the story is ALWAYS the same: violent black criminal either mouths off at the police and/or attempts to flee.

          Let’s be clear: when a police officer stops you you are to remain calm and comply with their requests, you are not supposed to violently resist or flee. The only people who do that are the guilty ones.

          Floyd had a criminal record for violent assaults etc. This would have been flagged up on the computer for the officers when they answered the call. What they found was a very violent man resisting arrest high on drugs. That is a scary situation for any officer because somebody on drugs is willing to do things a normal person would not.

        • Darth Skippy says:

          Chauvin and Floyd have apparently worked with eachother as security guards, before finding jobs as crisis actors.

          • Darth Skippy says:

            Chauvin is a real surname, though I am tempted to question an msm narrative, whenever the name matches the story.

            “Chauvinism is the irrational belief in the superiority or dominance of one’s own group or people, who are seen as strong and virtuous, while others are considered weak, unworthy, or inferior. It can be described as a form of extreme patriotism and nationalism, a fervent faith in national excellence and glory.

            According to legend, French soldier Nicolas Chauvin was badly wounded in the Napoleonic Wars and received a meager pension for his injuries. After Napoleon abdicated, Chauvin maintained his fanatical Bonapartist belief in the messianic mission of Imperial France, despite the unpopularity of this view under the Bourbon Restoration. His single-minded blind devotion to his cause, despite neglect by his faction and harassment by its enemies, started the use of the term…”

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