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‘First Amendment rights can be terminated’: When cops, cameras don’t mix

01/06/2012

“Your First Amendment rights can be terminated,” yells the Chicago police officer, caught on video right before arresting two journalists outside a Chicago hospital. One, an NBC News photographer, was led away in handcuffs essentially for taking pictures in a public place. He was released only minutes later, but the damage was done. Chicago cops suffered an embarrassing “caught on tape” moment, and civil rights experts who say cops are unfairly cracking down on citizens with cameras had their iconic moment.

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9glmgLIhaM]

The most celebrated case involves Simon Glik, who in 2007 filmed police arresting a homeless man near Boston Commons. Glick was arrested and charged with violating the state’s wiretapping law. His case was dismissed, but he then brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city. In August 2011, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled unanimously in his favor.

“That decision is 24 pages of pure gold,” Osterreicher said. “The judges talked about the right to record in public. They said the First Amendment right is self-evident. They took judicial notice of the fact that news is as likely to come from someone with a cellphone as anyone. And they talked about the fact that police officers … should expect to be recorded when out in public.”

In March of this year, Boston paid Glik $170,000 to settle the suit.

“It’s really not up to police officers to decide what is and isn’t newsworthy,” Osterreicher said. “It’s a shame Boston had to learn an expensive lesson.”
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6 Comments
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