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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, September 02, 2011

Appeals Court Defends Photographing Police; Bloggers as Journalists

Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: Three and a half years ago, Dan Blank posted the image used for this post and an article on his blog tiled Changing Roles: Journalists Become Bloggers; Bloggers Become Journalists The struggle of the citizen press has continued and the courts have had to sort out for public officials and others that 1st Amendment rights apply to bloggers and the public in general as detailed in the following article. Often the paid news media has identified themselves as professionals and pointed to bloggers, photographers, and other new media types as "unprofessional" because they are self funded (not paid by someone else). In recent times, these professionals have tried  to wear the blogger label.  While public employees and politicians may not like it, bloggers and other new media writers are covered by the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.  I appreciate the 1st Dist US Court of Appeals acknowledging this situation. The struggle is not over because like darkness flees the light, politicians, government officials, and their employees do not like transparency, oversight by the public, or independent opinions made public on their performance and actions.

"...though not unqualified, a citizen's right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment." First Circuit Court of Appeals. [Source See 1st District US Court of Appeals - 10-1764 Sect: II,A,2]
Dr. Mike Landry: The right to take photographs or video of police in public places was affirmed in an August 26 ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in New England. Just as importantly, the court also said individuals with cameras have the same rights as professional journalists.

The court said Simon Glik was within his First Amendment rights when he made a cell phone video of Boston police arresting a man, and arresting Glik for making the video violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

Walking by Boston Commons October 1, 2007, Glik had seen three police officers arresting a young man and heard a bystander say "You're hurting him. Stop" Concerned about police brutality, Glik then began recording the event. After subduing the young man, police ordered Glik to stop recording. When Glik objected, police arrested him.

Glik was charged with violating the state's wiretap law, disturbing the peace, and aiding in the escape of a prisoner. The City of Boston later dropped the aiding in escape charge, and the municipal court dismissed the disturbing the peace charge and also the wiretap charge because the recording was not secret. Glik then sued the city in federal district court and the case ended up at the court of appeals. There, the city argued that police should not be recorded due to their professional immunity from liability but the court cited extensive case law which said government officials in public places may be recorded.

Regarding the First Amendment rights of citizens who are not professional journalists, the court said: "The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status." [Source See 1st District US Court of Appeals - 10-1764 Sect: II,A,1]

Tags: Boston Commons, Boston, Massachusetts, First Circuit Court of Appeals, constitutional right, First Amendment, right to take photographs of police, right to take video of police, public places, photos, cameras, cell phone recording, police, Photographing Police, bloggers, bloggers as journalists, blogger To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 5:33 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Edward C. Tracey said...

I too have a Social Conservative Website and was told by local police that I could not video the arrest of a car chase and the alleged perp on the ground because quote"If you keep videotaping the victim i will take your camera and let the judge decide" I turned away at that time until I was cleared to continue. Police need to be educated as the rights and the law of bloggers and citizen Journalist.

Thanks for posting this for those who fought this fight.

Ed Tracey from Rockdale County GA


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