There is another disturbing story involving the police seizure of cameras of a scene of alleged police abuse. The arrest of a homeless man was caught on camera in Antioch, California. The arrest turned violent and some accused the police of abuse on the man who appeared mentally disturbed. Regardless of the merits of those allegations, police then added to the controversy by demanding that witnesses turn over their cameras.
Witnesses said that police officers insisted that all cameras be turned over from those videotaping their conduct. One witness said that he was ordered to erase his video.
We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue.
Often the violation of the constitutional rights of witnesses are established but there is no meaningful discipline meted out against officers. The most we have seen in many cases is “re-training” or a letter explaining that citizens have such constitutional rights. The lack of discipline reinforces the sense of protection for officers. In the vast majority of cases, citizens are likely not to take the trouble of raising the issue with outside lawyers or civil liberties groups.
The police have not commented on this incident.
Kudos: Michael Blott