The Huffington Post yesterday published an article about the public’s right to film, photograph and record the police while they work in public. Apparently, many people don’t know about this right, including police officers themselves. In fact, the NY police department had to post a notice to officers remindin them that WE the PEOPLE have a 1st AMENDMENT right to film the police while they work in public, and that it’s a violation of our basic rights to slam our heads into windows, wrestle us to the ground, or otherwise brutalize us while we try to capture the good men and women in blue during their work.
But remember: they have batons, and heavy flashlights, and guns, and taser weapons, and they CAN use them freely on the streets with little or no controls on their actions. True, they may face discipline, firing, or a civil rights lawsuit later on. But in the heat of the moment, when they fear being found out, they could potentially break your bones, cause a concussion, or worse when they try to stop you from exercising your First Amendment rights. So my bottom line is: be careful and smart when recording the police in public. Do it from a place of safety, and preferably, from a place of obscurity–where you will not be seen. Your rights won’t matter to you much if you’re dead as a result of illegal police brutality while censoring your free speech rights.