June 16th, 2014 by and tagged Arrest, first amendment, free speech, photographers, recording, video
The constitutionally protected right to record police officers on duty in public places such as parks, which was affirmed in Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011), has been affirmed by the First Circuit to not only include parks and other traditional public places, but now even routine traffic stops.
In Glik, the plaintiff filmed several Boston police officers arresting a young man on the Boston Commons. The court in Glik held that the First Amendment protects the right of individuals to videotape police officers performing their duties in public, recognizing that it firmly establishes and protects “a range of conduct” surrounding the gathering and dissemination of information. Id. at 82.
The recently decided case of Gericke v Weare broadens this right to include routine traffic stops, concluding that a traffic stop does not extinguish an individual’s right to film. The main question that was presented in Gericke was whether a a routine traffic stop was a police duty carried out in public. The court said yes and compared Glik with Gericke, stating that “those First Amendment principles apply equally to the filming of a traffic stop and the filming of an arrest in a public park. In both instances, the subject of filming is police carrying out their duties in public.” Id.
But the court recognized that there may be some limitations on this right because the circumstances of a traffic stop can potentially become dangerous to an officer, if for example in this case, firearms are present in the stopped vehicle. Such limitations may come into play when a police officer’s ability to perform his duties are actually impaired.
Reasonable restrictions, such as those of time, place, and manner, on the exercise of the right to film may be imposed when the circumstances justify them. See Glik, 655 F.3d at 84. A police officer can order filming to cease only when he/she can reasonably articulate that the filming itself is interfering, or is about to interfere, with his/her duties. Glik established that a reasonable officer cannot, consistently with the Constitution, prosecute citizens for violating wiretapping laws when they peacefully record a police officer performing his or her official duties in a public area.” Id. (emphasis added).
In Gericke, since there was a genuine factual dispute about whether the plaintiff had been disruptive, the court denied the officers’ motions for summary
judgment on the retaliatory prosecution claim stemming from the wiretapping charge. The First Amendment right to film police activity carried out in public,
including a traffic stop, necessarily remains unrestricted unless it is deemed to be disruptive.
**** Update: Shortly after the decision, the Town of Weare settled the lawsuit for $57,500
Posted in Boston Police, cell phone cameras, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Glik v Cunniffe, Police, Recording, Recording Police, Simon Glik, Uncategorized, video cameras, violating | No Comments »
October 4th, 2011 by Mickey Osterreicher
Given the rash of recent incidents involving the arrest of citizens and journalists around the country, NPPA commends the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) for the agreement they have obtainedÂ on behalf of journalistsÂ in Goodman, et al. v. St. Paul, et al. We agreeÂ withÂ Â CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, who said the settlement â€œsends an important message to police departments all over the country . . . that failure to respect the constitutional rights of citizens and journalists may expose municipalities to serious liability.â€
The terms of theÂ settlement include compensation of $100,000 for the three named journalists as well asÂ an “agreement by the St. Paul police department to implement a training program aimed at educating officers regarding the First Amendment rights of the press and public with respect to police operationsâ€”including police handling of media coverage of mass demonstrationsâ€”and to pursue implementation of the training program in Minneapolis and statewide.â€ Written proposals for these programs, which must be approved by the Plaintiffs and their lawyersÂ are expected to be submitted by the end of the year.
The lawsuit was filed on May 5, 2010 in the United States District Court in the District of Minnesota by the Center for Constitutional Rights and pro bono attorneys Steven Reiss from Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP in New York and Albert Goins of Minneapolis on behalf of three “Democracy Now!” journalists, Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, against federal and local law enforcement agencies.Â The defendants in the lawsuit were: the City of St. Paul, the City of Minneapolis, the County of Ramsey, St. Paul police chief John Harrington, Â Minneapolis police chief, Timothy Dolan, Ramsey County Sheriff, Bob Fletcher, an unidentified U.S. Secret Service agent and multiple unidentified law enforcement officers. The matter arose Â during the 2008 Republican National Convention, where it was alleged that law enforcement agencies targeted journalists in violation of their Constitutional rights and subjected the journalists to unlawful arrest, unlawful search and seizure and unreasonable use of excessive force.Â All charges were later dismissed.
The complaint also alleged that â€œby arresting, assaulting, and detaining Plaintiffs and other members of the press, law enforcement significantly hindered Plaintiffsâ€™ ability to . . . report on vital matters of public concernÂ Â Â Â . . .Â and the conduct of law enforcement personnel . . . .â€ Â According to reports â€œscores of journalists and other members of the media were arrested, detained, assaulted and searched. Their belongings were also seized and searched, including their cameras, video and other media equipment. The journalists prominently displayed their press credentials throughout the incidents and repeatedly identified themselves as members of the media to the acting law enforcement.â€
NPPA commends CCR for its strong stance in protecting the rights of journalists. We expect that the terms of the settlement in this case will send a strong message to law enforcement agencies around the country. The recent and continuing conduct by law enforcement agencies in harassing, detaining, interfering with and in some cases arresting citizens and journalists engaged in constitutionally protectedÂ Â activitiesÂ under color of law must cease. In each of these cases NPPA has requested that the offending police agency implement proper policies, procedures and guidelines as well as training for officers regarding the First Amendment rights of the press and public.
Posted in Access, broadcasting, Cameras, confiscated, Democarcy Now!, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment, Fourth Amendment rights, law, Legal, Minneapolis Police, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Police, Public Photography, Recording Police, Search and Seizure, St. Paul Police, U.S. Secret Service, video cameras, violating | No Comments »
September 20th, 2011 by Alicia Calzada and tagged Access, first amendment, journalism school, Legal, Mickey Osterreicher, video
Click here for video
Police in Milwaukee arrested 68-year-old videographer Clint Fillinger, a former NPPA member,Â at a fire scene, even as the photographer was following a police officer’s illegal orders to move back while other members of the public were allowed to stay.
Fox 6, the television station where the journalist works reports that Fillinger “was shooting video behind yellow police tape alongside a small crowd that gathered to watch” when he was approached by the officer and ordered to move back. According to the station, the photographer put his hand up in a defensive manner as the officer was forcing him to move backwards, when he accidentally touched the officer and Fillinger was knocked to the ground, suffering bruises, and arrested. He was cited for resisting and obstructing an officer.
The station’s management has complained to the police department and the NPPA has also sent a formal letter of complaint to the department protesting the arrest. NPPA’s general counsel, Mickey Osterreicher cited the fact that the arrest violated the department’s own policies and added:
While in some situations the press may have no greater rights than those of the general public, they certainly have no less right of access on a public street. Sgt. Thomas Heinz pretextually stated he has moving Mr. Fillinger â€œfor his own safetyâ€ yet did not see fit to move any other persons back or to move the previously established police/fire lines….
NPPA stands ready to work with your department to help develop reasonable and workable policies and practices in order to avoid similar situations. If your departmentâ€™s vision is for â€œMilwaukee to be a place where all can live safely and without fear, protected by a police department with the highest ethical and professional standards;â€ we would respectfully request you commence a full and impartial investigation of this incident and bring disciplinary action against these officers if necessary. Additionally we request that all charges against Mr. Fillinger be immediatley dropped.
More details on the arrest can be found at Fox 6’s website:
For the full text of Osterreicher’s letter to the Milwaukee police department, follow this link: Milwaukee Police Letter 09-20-11
********** UPDATE ***************
On September 21, 2011, Milawuakee Police Chied Edward Flynn spoke to the mediaÂ and among other things blamed the 68 year-old news photographer’s failure to compy with the officer’s request as the cause of the incident. The NPPA responded with a second letter sent today.
********** UPDATE ***************
Two additional groups, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Wisconsin News Photographers Association have also protested the arrest. Read the letters below.
Posted in Access, broadcasting, Cameras, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Milwaukee Police, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Police, Public Photography, Recording Police, video cameras, violating | 1 Comment »
August 25th, 2011 by Mickey Osterreicher
NPPA has written strong letters of objection to both U.S. Rep. Steve ChabotÂ (R-Ohio)Â Â and the Cincinnati Police Chief after video cameras belonging to citizens were seized by a police officerÂ acting upon orders from the congressmanâ€™s aides.
The incident occurred on August 22, 2011 while Chabot was speaking to the public at a town hall meeting. According to pressÂ reports, Chabot spokesman Jamie Schwartz admitted that â€œhe had a Cincinnati police officerÂ confiscate the cameras â€˜to protect the privacy of constituents.â€™â€
Think Progress also reported that signs were posted on doors at the NorthAvondale Recreation Center that read: â€œFor Security Purposes, Cameras Are NOT Permitted.â€Â Video posted on Carlos Millerâ€™s website shows clips of the incident. At least two photographers recording with broadcast quality cameras can be seen in the video although they were not interefered with.
What is most disconcerting is that Congressman Chabot sits on the U.S. House of Representatives Commitee on the Judiciary which deals with these very issues and has supported legislation permitting â€œthe photographing, electronic recording, broadcasting, or televising to the public of [federal] court proceedings. In seeking â€œa complete and immediate apologyâ€ by the congressman for this Â â€œblatant constitutional transgressionâ€ the NPPA letter also wrote that â€œposting signs banning cameras â€˜for security purposesâ€™ does not supersede the constitutional rights of citizens.â€
Reaction to the incident has been extremely negative and widespread withÂ hundreds of comments posted on YouTube, Congressman Chabotâ€™s Facebook wallÂ and sent to his congresssional website page. This appears to beÂ exactly theÂ embarrassing outcome that aides had intented to avoid. Schwartz also is reported to have said thatÂ the cameras confiscatedÂ “from David Little and Liz Ping, who were given the cameras back at the end of the meeting.â€
The NPPA letter to Cincinnati Police Chief James E. Craig stated that â€œwhether the officer acted at the request of the congressman or his staff or of his own volition exhibits a total lack of understanding and/or disregard for the constitutional protections afforded those he is sworn to serve and protect. Law enforcement agencies are established to uphold and enforce laws in a professional manner, part of which is to exercise good judgment. I believe that your officer abused that discretion by his actions.â€ The letter also went on to state that â€œif your departmentâ€™s vision is to be â€˜recognized as the standard of excellence in policingâ€™ by â€˜the delivery of fair and impartial police services while maintaining an atmosphere of respect for human dignity;â€™ then we would respectfully request that you maintain your â€˜integrity,â€™ â€˜professionalism,â€™ and â€˜accountabilityâ€™ by upholding your â€˜obligations to the department and communityâ€™ and reinstate â€˜public trustâ€™ by a full and impartial investigation of this incident.â€ The letter concluded by a â€œrequest that your department immediately issue orders directing officers to cease such activity and also that your department implement revised training for all officers regarding these matters.â€
Another town hall meeting is scheduled for August 29, 2011. Schwartz assured reporters that â€œno cameras would be seized atâ€ that meeting.
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/08/24/Video-cameras-confiscated-at-town-hall/UPI-46281314241497/#ixzz1W3ygwoJo
Â and http://www.pixiq.com/article/ohio-congressman-bans-cameras-from-town-hall-meeting
Posted in Access, Cameras, cincinnati police, condemned, confiscated, congressman, ethics, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment, Fourth Amendment rights, law, Legal, mass media, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, Police, Politics, Public Photography, Search and Seizure, steve chabot, Town Hall Meeting, video cameras, violating | 1 Comment »