Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, November 28, 2011

Police Brutality is Legal; Photographing It ISN’T

This seems to be some people’s “reasoning.”  The infamous Rodney King beating by the LAPD would have been their little secret if the entire incident hadn’t been videotaped from somebody’s apartment window.  At the time, there were jokes going around that the L.A. city council wanted a 3-day waiting period before you could buy a video camera.

These days it’s not even a joke.  There are already a few state and local laws prohibiting citizens from videotaping police officers during an arrest.  Leonard Pitts, Jr. writes about it in this column, Give Thanks to Citizens With Cameras.

He tells about a woman in Rochester, NY who was arrested for videotaping a traffic stop from her own yard.  In Miami Beach, a man was arrested, beaten by police and had his cell phone stomped on — how convenient — after he recorded an officer-involved shooting.

The recent pepper spraying incident art UC Davis would have been nothing more than a rumor if the incident hadn’t been captured on a cell phone.  Same with the police execution of an unarmed handcuffed suspect on an Oakland BART train (New Year’s Day 2009.)  The executioner, BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, is already out of jail after serving a shorter sentence than most people would get for shoplifting.  But if the murder hadn’t been caught by somebody’s cell phone, the police would have come up with an official story that the murder victim — Oscar Grant — had fallen and hit his head; pulled a gun and had to be shot; or something.

About ten years ago (give or take), the San Francisco Police Department filed a libel suit against a woman whose only “crime” was giving a sworn statement about what she had witnessed during an arrest.

Just as you don’t need a weather man to tell which way the wind blows, you don’t need a court ruling to know that these laws against videotaping police officers are clearly unconstitutional.  Every one of these laws should be suspended immediately by the federal government until the courts can come to the obvious conclusion.

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Blogger jadedj said...

Yes and this is not new. This blatant suppression of civil rights by police departments across the country has been going on for very long time. I thought this issue had been resolved and declared unconstitutional in the courts already. Apparently I am wrong. But of course, enforcing it is quite another thing given that the enforcers are the perpetrators.

November 28, 2011 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Better not allow it to be photographed... that would make grist for the left-wing mill! 8-)

November 28, 2011 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

jadedj: Yup, when "the enforcers are the perpetrators," things get a bit awkward.

Snave: Pretty soon we won't even be able to blog about it.

November 28, 2011 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

If you photograph, the terrorists win.

November 29, 2011 at 2:29 AM  
Blogger harry said...

Kill the Messenger.

Nothing new under the sun.

"V" word, "boozing"!

November 29, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

This is outrageously unconstitutional. It's hard to imagine it hasn't been made impossible by the courts already.

The Constitution forbids secret laws for good reasons. Secret law enforcement is every bit as unacceptable.

November 29, 2011 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: How about when you photograph the terrorists?

Harry: Yup, the messenger is the problem.

SW: My guess is, local governments are just writing and enforcing these laws with the hope that the people who got arrested will be intimidated and won't appeal their cases to a higher court.

November 29, 2011 at 2:35 PM  

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