February 20th, 2014

PDN Video: A Photographer’s Guide to the First Amendment and Dealing with Police Intimidation

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, news photographers have been subject to police intimidation and arrest, as if photography is a crime. But federal law protects photography and photographers, as Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel to the National Press Photographers Association, explains in this video. The challenge for photographers is knowing how to assert your rights in tense situations, without getting arrested. Osterreicher offers practical tips for staying out of trouble while getting the pictures you need. And for photographers unfortunate enough to get arrested, he suggests places to call for legal help.

Related:

Police Intimidation Watch: New Haven Police Sued for Arresting Photographer, Erasing iPhone Video

Police Intimidation Watch: Detroit Police Apologize After Video Shows Them Violating Photographer’s Rights

Police Intimidation Watch: Cop Charged with Lying About a Photographer’s Arrest

March 28th, 2012

Police Intimidation Watch: Boston to Pay $170K for Wrongful Arrest of Videographer

The City of Boston has agreed to pay $170,000 to settle a civil lawsuit for the wrongful arrest of a man for videotaping police as they arrested another man on the Boston Common in 2007.

The settlement, announced yesterday of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, resulted from a federal court ruling that the First Amendment protects the right to record police carrying out their duties in a public place. That ruling, issued last August by the US Court of Appeals in Boston, is binding only in New England (excluding Connecticut) and Puerto Rico, where the court has jurisdiction. (Glik v. Cunniffe 655 F.3d 78 (2011))

“[B]ut its persuasive reasoning has been cited by courts and lawyers nationwide facing the recurrent issue of police arresting people for filming them,” the ACLU asserts.

Police have arrested citizens in several states for video taping them, on the grounds that wiretapping statutes in those states prohibit recording anyone without their consent.

“The law had been clear for years that openly recording a video is not a crime,” said Simon Glik, the plaintiff in the Boston case, in the ACLU announcement.

Glik, who is an attorney, was arrested in October, 2007 after he saw police arresting a teenager on the Boston Common, and began making a video of the arrest with his cell phone. Police arrested Glik on criminal charges of illegal wiretapping and disturbing the peace.

After the charges were dismissed, Glik sued the City of Boston on the grounds that Boston police had violated his civil rights. In addition to finding that Glik’s First Amendment rights had been violated, the US Court of Appeals ruled that his Fourth Amendment rights had also be violated on the grounds of wrongful arrest.

Related:
Police Intimidation Watch: Beating a Photojournalist on a Lisbon Street
A Sign of Restive Times: Policeman Punches Photojournalist

March 21st, 2012

Police Intimidation Watch: Journalists Detained for Being Present at a Chicago News Event

Chicago police detained two journalists outside a hospital as they waited on a public sidewalk to interview the family of a young shooting victim, according to the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP).

In this video of the incident, the arresting officer says, “Your First Amendment rights can be terminated if you create a scene. Your First Amendment rights have limitations.” The journalists asked how they were creating a scene, and the arresting officer responded, “Your presence is creating a scene.”


(Note: NBC, which owns this video, may run a short advertisement before it plays)

The journalists, a radio reporter and TV cameraman, were held in a police vehicle and released after ten minutes without charges, according to RCFP.

National Press Photographers Association attorney Mickey Osterreicher, who has been kept busy lately reading the US Constitution to police departments all over the country, sent a letter of protest to the Chicago Superintendent of Police. Osterreicher wrote that it isn’t the duty of police officers “to decide what is appropriate news coverage of any story.

“It is apparent that the two journalists were not charged because…there was no criminal trespass and your officers’ overreaction by detaining them in a catch-and-release manner only served to prevent them from carrying out their professional and lawful function,” Osterreicher wrote. “It was nothing less than a blatant disregard of the First and Fourth Amendment.” (The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure by police.)