Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez failed in her latest effort to strip citizens of a basic right to film police in public — and thereby eliminate the single most effective tool against police abuse in this century. The Supreme Court refused her appeal of the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which expressly criticized Alvarez for her “extreme” position on the rights of citizens. As a native Chicagoan, I remain astonished that citizens have allowed Alvarez to remain in office as she has publicly sought to strip them of their rights and block a tool that has been used repeatedly to show police abuse. For a leading and generally liberal jurisdiction, Chicago has the ignominy and dishonor of leading the effort to fight core civil liberties in this area.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Alvarez to block prosecution of ACLU staff for recording police officers in public. We have been following the effort of police and prosecutors around the country to deter such citizen monitoring of police. This trend continued this week with another disturbing case out of California. For a prior column, click here.
It is otherworldly to see these abuses occurring in two usually progressive jurisdictions of California and Illinois. Alvarez has become the leader of this rogue’s gallery of prosecutors who have strived to jail their own citizens for monitoring police in public. It is, to put it bluntly, a disgrace. While Alvarez failed in her latest bid, she and other prosecutors remain undeterred in their desire to see citizens punished for such videotapes — tapes that have featured prominently in establishing false arrests and police abuse. Before such filming, abuse claims were overwhelmingly rejected with the denials of the officers. Now, there is often undeniable proof — proof that Alvarez and others want barred under the threat of criminal prosecution.
Source: Chicago Tribune