First Circuit Panel Says There’s a Clear Constitutional Right To Openly Record Cops. | The Agitator

From Balko at The Agitator comes this important report.

The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, “the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.”…

As a photographer, I have read with dismay the reports coming from the various blogs, including Photography is not a Crime about how photographers & private citizens are being targeted by police and citizens when they try to do their job or record possible police misconduct.

This ruling, while limited, goes a long way towards establishing our protected rights to photograph subjects in public.

Buildings, people on the sidewalk and anything and anyone else *in public* have no assumed right to privacy, yet daily I read about police, security guards and self-appointed protectors harassing or interfering with a photographer. It’s in-fricking-sane.

Prior to 9-11, we were living in a free society.. but slowly the neo-cons have eroded these rights into a farce. Combined, the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terrorism” have us living in a country with fewer freedoms than many countries in eastern Europe in the 1970s.

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