Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search

Civil Liberties

Showing Original Post only (View all)


(2,125 posts)
Thu Feb 25, 2016, 03:28 PM Feb 2016

ACLU plans challenge to ruling finding no First Amendment right to film police [View all]

ACLU plans challenge to ruling finding no First Amendment right to film police


Civil rights lawyers said Wednesday that they intend to appeal a federal court ruling in Philadelphia that citizens do not necessarily have a right protected by the First Amendment to record police activity.

In an opinion issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Mark A. Kearney wrote that unless a videographer announces the recording as an act of protest or a challenge to officers, police are free to stop it.

"While we instinctively understand the citizens' argument, particularly with rapidly developing instant image sharing technology, we find no basis to craft a new First Amendment right based solely on 'observing and recording' without expressive conduct," Kearney wrote.

But in an age of expanding surveillance - from instant cellphone photo sharing to increased use of police body cameras - the American Civil Liberties Union and its partners in the case were not alone in raising an eyebrow at Kearney's conclusions.

Civil rights lawyers say the public's right to record images has been established in other courts, including U.S. appellate courts based in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta. Kearney's ruling also landed in a city with a tumultuous history of conflict over public recording of police activity.

"Without a protected right to film officers, the ability of the public to monitor police activity is really reduced," said Mary Catherine Roper, one of the ACLU lawyers involved in the two cases on which Kearney ruled. "We know how effective video has been in creating a conversation about police accountability. Video does not always show police officers are misbehaving, but without it, it's really hard to convince people of misconduct by the authorities."

This is a very interesting case. If you recall, in 2000 the Philadelphia police made mass arrests during the RNC that year. The judges had given them permission to infiltrate peaceful protestors at a puppet warehouse. The cops arrested them all and left them sitting handcuffed in hot police vans for hours without food or water. All the arrests were thrown out and the city paid millions in damages.

I hope the ACLU prevails in this, especially with all the police shootings going on.

3 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
Latest Discussions»Issue Forums»Civil Liberties»ACLU plans challenge to r...»Reply #0