Colored drawing by Anthony Jensen

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


A message to the media, following coverage of the second arrest of Antonio Buehler for videotaping police officers...Buehler is already facing charges for the same several months ago, prompting a national outcry.

---  "Because recording police officers in the public discharge of their duties is protected by the First Amendment, policies should prohibit interference with recording of police activities except in narrowly circumscribed situations....Officers should be advised not to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement activities or intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices." - Department of Justice ---

Media...ask yourselves:

--Does this new APD policy of having to stand 50-60' away to record any police activity AFFECT YOU? 
...Police across the nation are increasingly confiscating news media cameras -and trying to delete video- in an effort to hide their just-caught actions. (I witnessed APD throw an Occupier's -our livestreamer- computer to the ground to break it during the OA eviction -- I was standing directly next to it - about to get cuffed myself). THIS HAPPENS-all over the country, arrests for videotaping, and destruction of video evidence, despite the complete legality of videotaping. APD's been moving in this direction for some time now, despite their platitudes of "we welcome it!"

--Does media get an "exemption" from this new rule? Who is "media"? Do you have to get permits to distinguish yourselves from us lowly bloggers and livestreamers? If so, would that be in the spirit of the 1st? Is that a slippery slope you support? Besides, we kinda have some case law around here (I was a plaintiff-remember the 8 Klansfolk at City Hall?) that they won't be able to do that--not that they won't try.

--How will APD enforce its distance rule? Tape measures? If random bystanders are 10' from a detainment, as they often are without ANY concern by LEOs, are they going to be arrested if officers are also planning to arrest a videographer 30' away? If not, why? How is someone holding a camera further away MORE of a danger than someone closer, without a camera (with their hands free)? What kind of lawsuits would come from that (there's plenty across the nation to draw from, almost all in favor of the videographer/photographer)? How much pubic safety & legal energy/resources will be spent on "dealing with peaceful videographers"?


Videotaping police is completely legal, according to SCOTUS (covering 1st, 4th & 14th amendment rights).ACLU even has an app for that! At question, supposedly, is keeping a "reasonable distance."

Having some experience with the measurements of 6th St. (a side job is working a certain festival twice a year...and I know the 10x10 tents, back to back, take up half the road, leaving 10' on either side, meaning the road, curb to curb is about 40')...essentially, you'd have to stand against the wall of one building to videotape a police detainment directly across 6th St. on the other sidewalk, and THEY'D have to press up against that building to get 50' between you. You'd have to walk 10 feet down on your side to get 60'. And can you even get any video through all those heads?

Is that reasonable? At all? Picture ALL the other people gaily strolling on the sidewalk, right next to officers detaining someone. They aren't a threat...but THOSE GUYS, WAY over THERE, in the red t-shirts with the peace signs, and the videocams - yeah...THEY are a threat.  :-p


"A person may record public police activity unless the person engages in actions that jeopardize the safety of the officer, the suspect, or others in the vicinity, violate the law, or incite others to violate the law." -Dept. of Justice

--Buehler was quiet -except for coordinating comments amongst PSPers - up to the moment he was standing on the spot the 1st officer engaged him (read: "OFFICER engaged BUEHLER"), that officer concluding the spot was fine. The officer who arrested him just happened upon the scene and decided to change that previous agreement (not exactly in line with policy--officers already on a scene are supposed to be deferred to).

"...speech is not protected by the First Amendment if it amounts to actual obstruction of a police officer’s investigation – for example, by tampering with a witness or persistently engaging an officer who is in the midst of his or her duties." - See video/see any of that?  For Buehler to be guilty of "interference," it would have to be proven that he intended to "obstruct the activity or threaten the safety of others."  See any of that? Buehler didn't even comment on the activity...which wouldn't matter, either. "Nor does an individual’s conduct amount to interference if he or she expresses criticism of the police or the police activity being observed."

--Since when does a suspect get to decide whether another person, exercising their 1st amendment right (upheld by SCOTUS), gets arrested? Is that even legal - or within policy? It's at least completely irresponsible of the officer to delegate HIS authority to a SUSPECT. 

--Did you know that the suspect apologized to Buehler in jail that night? 

--Did you note the warning the officer gave Buehler --was a whole 1/2 second to comply?

--One outlet reported: ..."That's when things got out of control." REALLY?? Who was out of control? Buehler was the calmest one there. He only spoke to the 1st officer about where to stand, and complied completely when the 2nd jumped him with his 1/2 second of warning.  I wish police officers were as IN control as Buehler was in that video.

--APA says WE are an endangerment. With our cameras. Getting in the way. WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE WE HAVE EVER CAUSED ANY ISSUES (ask next time, please); caused a cop to trip or a perp to get away?  Isn't paying attention to those paying attention to you doing your job what's endangering your job? Being distracted? Doesn't THAT harm the public safety? It's not the guy witnessing you being distracted from your job....

--Also ask APA why they insist on engendering violence against PSP and Buehler - the death threats didn't start until the news cycle this evening...due precisely to APA's 'outrage' against us peaceful videographers.

--They can get away with homicide of unarmed youth of color by saying they "felt" threatened. NOW they think they can get away with not being recorded by pushing us 50+ feet back, because that's where they "feel" safe. Notice a pattern? A whole lot of "feelings" involved in the rules and practices of police work...a lot of discretion...very little quantifiable accountability.


So, you see, all this talk of "distance" is a distraction. It has nothing to do with the number of feet, and everything to do with your ACTIONS - and whether you are physically, intentionally interfering, according to the courts and the DOJ. Standing aside quietly, at a "reasonable distance" proscribed by one of the officers until another one suddenly decided that was not "reasonable," does NOT "interference" make.

Remind me again how Chief Acevedo was our change agent; intent on bringing us a better department - ?  Seems like such a long time ago...all that hope we once had.  And where has Mr. Everywhere been lately...anyone? ...Buehler?

1 comment:

  1. GO, Antonio, GO!!! DO NOT let them push you around! YOU are changing the game! They will resist, but will NO CHOICE but to give in and comply when the dust settles.