The issue of filming police officers in the United States has become an extremely contentious one. Despite the fact that we have freedom of the press and the God-given natural rights we are endowed with, police nationwide are telling people that it is illegal to film police. Some states have even tried to use "wiretapping laws" to prosecute people who record audio of police. This is a gross mis-use and abuse of legitimate wiretapping laws, which were meant to cover telephone conversations which require consent of both parties.
Police often commit crimes against citizens, in public and private. Officers often beat, taze, and even rape and kill innocent people. They conduct illegal searches, plant evidence, make up phony charges, seize and destroy people's cell phones and cameras, and then lie in court about all of it. Police supervisors will then often coerce or intimidate people into not filing formal complainst against officers. Many innocent people who film police and police abuses are then arrested, charged, and left to fight phony charges. Along with this comes the monetary expense, loss of freedom, and stress that often accompanies facing criminal charges. We should not stand for this. We need to exercise our rights, or we will lose them.
In 2008 I filed an official complaint regarding the right to film police in public. You can watch the entire internal affairs interview below or if you prefer, just watch the short segments and read the transcript where the two police investigators repeatedly confirm that is indeed 100% legal to film police in public: Police Internal Affairs Investigators Confirm that Filming Cops in Public is 100% Legal.
Below are a bunch of court cases and other information which affirms our right to film police. Following that is a chronological list of videos of me filming police, from 2008 to the present.
|For those of you who may be confused about our right to film on-duty police officers, here are two letters from the U.S. Department of Justice: One from 5/14/12 and a more recent one from 3/4/13.
"The United States addressed the central questions raised in this case - whether individuals have a First Amendment right to record police officers in the public discharge of their duties, and whether officers violate individuals' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they seize such recordings without a warrant or due process - in a Statement of Interest filed in Sharp v. Baltimore City Police Dept., et al., No. 1:11-cv-02888 (D. Md.), attached here as Exhibit A.1 Here, as there, the United States urges the Court to answer both of those questions in the affirmative.
"This case raises questions that the United States did not address directly in Sharp, the answers to which are critical to ensuring that the constitutional rights at issue in that case are upheld. First, the United States urges the Court to find that both the First and Fourth Amendments protect an individual who peacefully photographs police activity on a public street, if officers arrest the individual and seize the camera of that individual for that activity. Second, the United States is concerned that discretionary charges, such as disorderly conduct, loitering, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest, are all too easily used to curtail expressive conduct or retaliate against individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights. The United States believes that courts should view such charges skeptically to ensure that individuals' First Amendment rights are protected. Core First Amendment conduct, such as recording a police officer performing duties on a public street, cannot be the sole basis for such charges. Third, the First Amendment right to record police officers performing public duties extends to both the public and members of the media, and the Court should not make a distinction between the public's and the media's rights to record here. The derogation of these rights erodes public confidence in our police departments, decreases the accountability of our governmental officers, and conflicts with the liberties that the Constitution was designed to uphold."
DOJ RULES: 'It Is Legal To Photograph And Film The Police' 3/15/13
Here is a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division dated May 14, 2012 outlining the "individuals' right to record police activity":
U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Right to Film Police, Even in Illinois November 26, 2012
U.S. Department of Justice Slaps Baltimore Police Over Right to Record Issue 5/16/12
First Circuit Court of Appeals Rules that Citizens Can Videotape Police
"On Friday, August 26, 2011, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which is New England's highest federal court just below the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled that citizens are allowed to videotape law officials while they conduct official duties."
Federal Courts Rule it is Not Illegal to Film Police 9/1/11
"This specific case in question was Simon Glik vs.The City of Boston (and several police officers), in which a teenage Simon Gilk was arrested after videotaping Boston Police abusing a homeless man. While Mr. Gilk was not interfering with the police, he was arrested on wiretapping charges."
Appeals Court Rules It Is Not Illegal To Film Police
"The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity].," said the Court. "Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs," stated the ruling, adding that this has been the case all along, and that the right to film police officers is not just restricted to the press.
Here is the text of the Glik ruling:
For those of you pushing the propaganda that filming police is "wiretapping", that is bogus too:
Here is another story of a woman who was acquitted of 'eavesdropping' after she filmed cops in Chicago:
I have a lot of experience in filming police. I never intended to go looking to purposely get involved in this issue. Far from it. My first experiences of purposely filming police was in 2000 when I had a show at a radio station in Hollywood. I recorded corrupt police after they started the so-called "Lakers riot" in Los Angeles at the Staples center in June 2000. I then filmed officers at the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles in August. I saw the LAPD cops infringe on the rights of many protesters. In 2003, the day after I was interviewed on KNBC TV Los Angeles news protesting Arnold Schwarzenegger, cops stopped me on the street and I filmed them. They tried to question me from going near the hotel when George W. Bush was speaking, and they asked what words were on my sign (a patently illegal violation of the 1st Ammendment).
But my recent interaction with filming cops, and insisting on asserting that right, began on Tuesday, July 8th 2008 at 3 in the afternoon.
That video is here:
Cops Don't Like Being Filmed
Uploaded on Sep 26, 2008
18,446 views [as of 2/25/12]
21 likes, 14 dislikes
Driving into a local shoping center one day, I turned the corner just in time to see a uniformed cop push down what looked like a young teenaged kid to the ground; so I got out my digital camera and started filming. Several detectives were milling around the scene and eventually saw me filming; one of them then came over to my car and suggested I get out and come closer. Sensing some sort of setup, (it's certainly not normal procedure for cops to invite strangers into interigation of suspects) I refused, and he remarked how my "car windows are so filthy I don't think you can see out". Sensing an unstable KOOK, I asked the kook cop his name and he refused to tell me, which is illegal. He then asked me my name, and I replied "none of your business". He then walked around to the front of my car, marked down my license plate and went back to his cop friends. I filed an official complaint which spawned an internal affairs investigation of both the kook cop and the other uniformed officer who pushed the person down. both of them coincidentally(?) had shaved heads. Click the link to the right to see the video of my interview with internal affairs regarding this incident and complaint. -- See text of full official complaint here: Formal Complaint Filed Against W. Covina Cop for Civil Rights Violations (Cop pushes kid) .
After I filed the formal complaint, the police as part of their investigation asked me to speak with their internal affairs officers; Here is that interview:
Police Internal Affairs Interview Part 1 / 5
Uploaded on Sep 26, 2008
Uploaded by freedommv1 on Sep 26, 2008
This is part 1/5. When I went into the police dept for the internal affairs investigative interview, I asked if it were being recorded and they said yes, audio and video. Since this was a mutually agreed upon interview i videotaped it myself also. (The principle being, why would anyone ever assume that one party, the state, can film but another can't?) here is that vid, which took place at West Covina, CA P.D. on September 15 2008.
Police Internal Affairs Interview Part 2 / 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j7z5TZ7-us
Police Internal Affairs Interview Part 3 / 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGGSImKATfs
Police Internal Affairs Interview -Part 4/5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RdPa69Mh3s
Police Internal Affairs Interview -Part 5/5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI1q8CFijL4
After my complaint, the Police Chief of West Covina sent me a letter thanking me for bringing my concerns to them. However, they never confirmed (or denied) wrongdoing of Detective Tedesco, and never answered any of the very specific legal questions outlined in my complaint. That shows what happens when the police investigate the police. As you will see in the police interview though, police internal affairs investigators clearly confirm upon my questioning that IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO FILM POLICE IN PUBLIC. Got that? Even the police themselves in their official capacity admit that we can film police.This is not confusing.
Despite this fact, On 1/27/09, I had another encounter with police in West Covina, CA. Here it is, along with the original description of the incident. This video now has over a million views:
It's NOT Illegal to Film Cops. RESIST ILLEGAL ORDERS- EXERT YOUR GOD GIVEN RIGHTS
Uploaded by freedommv1 on Feb 5, 2009
476 likes, 80 dislikes
1,966 likes, 561 dislikes
Yes, our rights are God given. We all have natural unalienable rights. The Declaration of Independence from July 4, 1776 states "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which THE LAWS OF NATURE AND OF NATURE'S GOD ENTITLE THEM, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, THAT THEY ARE ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."
As several astute commenters pointed out, not only was I not uncooperative, but I was not obligated to and should not have complied with the cops illegal orders to present my ID, get out of the car, or consent to be patted down. They had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to do this.
Note that I did not, however, ever turn off the camera or stop recording, despite the officer's threats that he would arrest us and seize our camera. The reason he didn't arrest us for filming is because he knew it was not illegal for us to film. Also, we did not consent to a search of our vehicle. That is why he could not search it. He could not have gotten a warrant to search because there was no grounds for it.
This all started several months earlier when I was pulling into a store parking lot and saw a shaved-headed cop violently push down a little teenaged kid. Shocked to witness such a thing, I started filming and a plain-clothed detective saw me and unsuccessfully attempted to interfere with my right to film. I filed a complaint against him and a police internal affairs investigation was instigated. I also filmed the police internal affairs interview, which is available on my youtube channel as well. During that interview the police themselves (this cops bosses) acknowledged that it is 100% legal to film cops. Watch that video here: Police Internal Affairs Investigators Confirm that Filming Cops in Public is 100% Legal http://libertyfight.com/archives/filming_cops_internal_affairs_investigative_interview.html The chief of police sent me a letter thanking me. So of course I was pissed when this fat slop pig tried to talk his garbage and lies.
John 3:19-21 "And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."
In January 2010, I filmed yet another obnoxious cop in another state just to stay in practice. This was featured on PrisonPlanet.com: Arkansas State Trooper meets videocamera
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
"For the most part, you may not have any problem with the average police encounter. It's still advised, however, to protect yourself by exerting your God given right to film public servants in public. By doing this regularly, we condition them to accepting the liberty of those they serve."
Still not illegal to film police: New York Rep. Towns brings the issue to Congress
July 25, 2010
How to React when a cop tells you it's illegal to take photos or videos
215,944 views [as of 2/25/12]
Uploaded by freedommv1 on Dec 16, 2010
Description: More details on this specific incident later, but bottom line: Immediately prior to my filming this, this koop cop had shouted at me and claimed that taking photographs was illegal(!) I guess he had thought he was in my photo (which he wasn't!) and he didn't like it. However, specifically because he told me that, I told him that not only is it NOT illegal to film cops, but just because you claimed that, I am not only going to photograph you, i am going to videotape you too, RIGHT NOW. And that is where this video begins. Notice the a-hole then lies and claims he knows it's not illegal. Yeah, that's what I thought. See folks, we have to be CONFIDENT in our natural rights, .. I call them God given rights, since our rights are inherent, from the Creator. If you're confused about this fact, as many are, just know that the founders acknowledged this in the Declaration of Indepenedence. So anyway, that's it for now. Notice how this stupid coward then turned sweetie pie when I stood up to him.
This article and video shows how two aggressive cops try (unsuccessfully) to intimidate a female motorist into giving up her rights:
Lunatic CHP cops go berzerk as female motorist successfully demands her rights under CA Vehicle code (3/22/13):
This article was featured on WhatReallyHappened.com , Economic Policy Journal, From the Trenches World Report , The Daily Paul (most popular of the day), Fourwinds10.net, and TheLibertyCaucus.com. Numerous CHP offices from around the satte visited the article. It was also featured on a private CHP forum.
This is the story of a guy who most certainly would have been in jail for a long time, if his friend hadn't recorded the incident to show to a jury:
Man who hit cop in self-defense is acquitted, with help of friend's video footage March 28, 2013 [Featured on educate-yourself.org , WhatReallyHappened.com and strike-the-root.com.]
Stockton, CA cop tells person not to film police on a public street
Cop at Suspicionless Checkpoint Starts Barking Orders, But Then Flees from Camera
Creepy DHS Supervisor tries to open vehicle door when motorist asks officer's name 4-17-13 [Featured on WhatReallyHappened, Economic Policy Journal, LewRockwell.com , RomanCatholicReport.com , battlefourtimes, and many others.]
Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze, Whittier Daily News, LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened, Infowars, PrisonPlanet, Economic Policy Journal, FreedomsPhoenix, Veterans Today, The Wayne Madsen Report, Devvy.com, Rense, Antiwar.com, IamtheWitness.com, National Motorists Association, RomanCatholicReport.com, Republic Broadcasting Network, WorldNetDaily, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 Los Angeles, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI 640, The Press Enterprise, Redlands Daily Facts, BlackBoxVoting, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com.
You've gotta see this: Fed up with cops like no other: "Officer Scaredy Pants" 7/31/12. Wow.
CarloS Miller's Excellent site: Photography Is Not A Crime
This story is about an activist in Michigan who films government corruption and police. He filmed a cop not wearing his seatbelt, and they tried to put him in jail for it. He beat the case.
This is the excellent channel of a libertarian Free-State project guy in New Hampshire: Ridley Report
Antonio Buehler of Austin, TX: Peaceful Streets Project peacefulstreets.com
MUST SEE Channel: Terry Bressi of Arizona is an expert. He recently won a lawsuit settlement for over $250,000 from the feds, whom he sued. CheckpointUSA.Org
See the First Amendment Center's phtography section and article The right to photograph: Why police can't call the shots
Oftentimes, when this subject comes up someone will claim "IT'S ILLEGAL TO FILM POLICE IN SEVERAL STATES!" This may be the case, since some states try to misapply the 'wire-tapping laws' to people who film police in public. A famous case was that of Illinois resident Michael Allison [See Man Faces Life In Jail For Recording Police]. An update on that case is here: Charges Dropped Against Man Who Faced Life In Jail For Recording Cops . Also see this report: Strict eavesdropping law ruled unconstitutional in Illinois case. There was a sinilar case where a motorcyclist was charged with wiretapping for filming a cop. That case was also thrown out of court: Judge Tosses Out Wiretapping Charges Against Motorcyclist Who Filmed Cop With Helmet Cam TIME Magazine report:
Should Videotaping the Police Really Be a Crime?
Also: Watch my interview with Vincent Arias, who was Shot By Cops, Charged With Two Felonies, and aquitted by a jury of all charges.
Oftentimes, when this subject comes up someone will claim "IT'S ILLEGAL TO FILM POLICE IN SEVERAL STATES!" This may be the case, since some states try to misapply the 'wire-tapping laws' to people who film police in public. A famous case was that of Illinois resident Michael Allison [See Man Faces Life In Jail For Recording Police]. An update on that case is here: Charges Dropped Against Man Who Faced Life In Jail For Recording Cops . Also see this report: Strict eavesdropping law ruled unconstitutional in Illinois case.
There was a sinilar case where a motorcyclist was charged with wiretapping for filming a cop. That case was also thrown out of court: Judge Tosses Out Wiretapping Charges Against Motorcyclist Who Filmed Cop With Helmet Cam
TIME Magazine report: Should Videotaping the Police Really Be a Crime?
Also: Watch my interview with Vincent Arias, who was Shot By Cops, Charged With Two Felonies, and aquitted by a jury of all charges.
| The Brett Darrow Case|
Brett Darrow is a 20 year old from St. George Missouri, who decided to mount a video camera in his car after getting some traffic tickets. Watch the bizzare series of events that unfolds in September 2007 when Brett politely invokes his God given rights to privacy and Constitutional protections. Sgt. James Kuehnlein became outraged and began screaming like a lunatic, berating and threatening Darrow, saying he would find '9 different charges' to lock him up on. Darrow later posted the video online where it got international attention, and Sgt. Kuehnlein was promptly fired. Darrow had an eerily similar incident happen to him in December 2006, when he politely invoked his rights and told a cop at a checkpoint that he did not want to discuss his personal life. Both these are must-see videos. Kudos to Brett Darrow for standing up for his unalienable rights and privacy. We can all learn from him.