Folks, we are seeing this happen all over the US.  In most cities and States it IS NOT illegal to photograph or video police as long as your not interfering with their duties in what ever they are doing.

Washington D.C.’s police chief issues an order that “recognizes that members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record” the police.

Here’s more of what the General Order says:

As long as the photographing or recording takes place in a setting at which the individual has a legal right to be present and does not interfere with a member’s safety, members shall not inform or instruct people that photographing or recording of police officers, police activity or individuals who are the subject of police action (such as a Terry stop or an arrest) is not allowed; requires a permit; or requires the member’s consent. Additionally, members shall not:

 

  • Order that person to cease such activity;
  • Demand that person’s identification;
  • Demand that the person state a reason why he or she is taking photographs or recording;
  • Detain that person;
  • Intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices; or
  • In any way threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an individual from recording members’ enforcement activities.

The ACLU has sued the District of Columbia and two police officers for allegedly seizing the cellphone of a man who photographed a police officer allegedly mistreating a citizen, and for then stealing his memory card.

The suit, filed in federal court (.pdf) in Washington, D.C., alleges that the police officer violated Earl Staley, Jr.’s First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights by improperly searching and seizing his property while he was exercising his right to photograph the police performing their duty.

The incident occurred July 20 when Staley, on his way to a bus stop with a friend, pulled out his phone to record police after he saw an officer hit a man on a motorbike. Two police officers then allegedly punched the man on the ground as he bled.

Staley pulled out his phone to take photos when police also allegedly began “chest bumping” bystanders who would not leave the scene.

Officer James O’Bannon seized Staley’s smartphone from his hand when he saw Staley take a photo of another officer and told Staley that he had broken the law in photographing the officer, according to the complaint. O’Bannon told Staley he was seizing the phone as evidence and threatened to arrest Staley if he didn’t leave the scene.

When Staley was later given back his phone by police, his memory card was missing. The police have still not returned the card, which Staley says contained several years’ worth of personal data, including family photos, passwords, financial account data and music files.

“That memory card had a lot of my life on it,” Staley said in a statement. “I can never replace those photos of my daughter’s first years. The police had no right to steal it. They’re supposed to enforce the law, not break it.”

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