Federal Courts Rule it is Not Illegal to Film Police
The First Court of Appeals has reached a decision that would allow the general public to video-tape police officers while they are working. This decision comes right after several well-known public cases have come to light involving citizens being arrested for video-taping police.
This specific case in question was Simon Glik vs.The City of Boston (and several police officers), in which a teenage Simon Gilk was arrested after videotaping Boston Police abusing a homeless man. While Mr. Gilk was not interfering with the police, he was arrested on wiretapping charges.
The ACLU had sued on his behalf, even when the charges were dropped, noting that there was a growing epidemic of citizens in the United States being arrested by police for videotaping, even when documenting police brutality and abuse.
The First Court Agreed with the ACLU that this should be legal, and wrote that: "The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity].
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.”
With the rise of YouTube and other social sharing services, more and more police have been under scrutiny for their public actions and in response have taken to pressing charges against civilians for videotaping them.
Currently there are several other cases still pending around the Country, including that of Khaliah Fitchette who videotaped Newak Police abusing another passenger and was arrested, while the police erased the cell-phone.
Additionally, the case of Michael Allison has made quite a bit of news. In this case, the Illinois Attorney General is trying to impose a 75 year sentence on Mr. Allison for recording police officers who were harassing him, reportedly for filing a lawsuit against the department previously. Charges are still being pursued, even though several similar cases have been thrown out by the Courts in Illinois.