Texas Police Don’t Like Being Photographed or Videotaped: Citizens Arrested for Filming Law Enforcement – Why? It’s Not Like Their Cameras Aren’t Watching Us.
Police around the country are arresting people for no other reason than they are taking photographs or videos of police officers on the job. This isn’t a movie, and it’s not something happening over on the East Coast or the West Coast, or during high security events like the Republican National Convention.
People Are Being Arrested for Taking Photos or Videos of Police Officers
It’s happened here in Dallas. Maybe you’ll remember this past Memorial Day Weekend, when Chris Moore was stopped by Dallas Deputy Sheriff James Westbrook while Moore was riding his bike as part of a big holiday motorcycle ride along Stemmons Freeway.
According to news reports, when Moore asked the officer why he’d been pulled over on his bike, the deputy told him it was because Deputy Westbrook wanted to take Moore’s helmet cam. (The transcript of the actual conversation appears in a news report by WFAA, you can read it online here – or listen to Moore’s cam video as provided on YouTube below.)
Understandably, Moore declined to gift the deputy with his helmet and its attached camera. So, next thing, Moore is arrested by the deputy. There weren’t any outstanding warrants. Moore wasn’t on any Most Wanted List. The guy on the cycle refused to turn over his bike helmet cam to the police and he got arrested because of it.
Sure, there have been investigations. There have been media inquiries. The deputy is being reviewed by his employers. That does not justify this Dallas citizen, participating in a bike ride on Memorial Day Weekend, getting busted and having to spend 8 hours behind bars.
Here’s the video from Chris Moore’s helmet, decide for yourself:
Meanwhile, similar incidents of police officers arresting citizens for photographing law enforcement or taking videos of the police are popping up all over the country. Here are just a few examples (just do a web search, you’ll find more):
- In Austin, an activist and Iraqi war veteran who is trying to bring attention to this issue named Antonio Buehler was arrested twice in Austin (charged with “interfering with public duty”) because he has been videotaping Austin police officers as they have been arresting other people.
- In New York, a journalist was arrested because he was taking film of a police chase along a Long Island freeway — he was arrested for obstruction of government administration. You can watch that video here (yes, the arrest is filmed and online).
- In Connecticut, a police officer grabbed a cell phone out of a woman’s bra after he realized she had been video recording his beating of a suspect after arresting him. The woman, a real estate agent who just happened to be nearby when this all started happening, was one of several people filming the teen being beaten by several officers after he had been cuffed and was laying on the ground. The officer, according to the woman’s statement, demanded the cell phone and when she refused, he handcuffed her arms behind her back and then took the phone out of her bra where she’d placed it after declining to turn it over to him.
It is not a crime to videotape or photograph the police.
This is scary stuff — cops have dashcams in their cars and we’ve got cameras in banks, shopping malls, and at almost every public street intersection, but law enforcement is trying to block public citizens from taking videos or photos of the police in action? No, this isn’t legal and it’s not right.
But it’s happening. In Texas. Right now.