Tuesday, August 30, 2011

US Appeals Court: Cops Arresting Those Videotaping Them is a Clear Violation of 1st and 4th Amendment Rights

Slightly off topic of precious metals, we are happy to report that the US Appeals Court has found that cops arresting citizens for peacefully videotaping their actions is a clear violation of 1st and 4th amendment rights.

Michael Sedergren of MA was arrested and charged with criminal wiretapping, disturbing the peace, and aiding the escape of a prisoner after he used his cell phone to record several Massachusetts cops assaulting (literally punching) a young man they were arresting.
After the bogus charges were eventually dropped by the Boston DA, Sedergren filed lawsuits against the cops and the City of Boston for violating his 1st and 4th amendment rights.
The district court sided with Sedergren, the officers then subsequently appealed citing immunity, and Friday a US Appeals Court has validated the district court decision, stating that:

In our society, police officers are expected to endure significant burdens caused by citizens' exercise of their First Amendment rights. See City of Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451, 461 (1987) ("[T]he First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers."). Indeed, "[t]he freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state." Id. at 462-63. The same restraint demanded of law enforcement officers in the face of "provocative and challenging" speech, id. at 461 (quoting Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 4 (1949)), must be expected when they are merely the subject of videotaping that memorializes, without impairing, their work in public spaces.

Perhaps cops will soon think twice before arresting those videotaping their actions.

Please see the entire decision below, as the case is crucial for the continuing freedoms enjoyed under our Bill of Rights.