Yet another case of police ordering someone to stop videotaping them has surfaced. This happened Friday on Long Island, according to Poynter.org.
The problem here is the law give the police broad authority to define what constitutes “obstruction,” for example. In this case, obstruction appears to be the fact the police couldn’t do their job because an open society was making it an impossible task.
The person being threatened with arrest in this case was a member of the media. But there are more cases of this now, of course, because just about everyone has a video camera with them all the time.
“We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the arrest,” a police spokesman told the Long Island Press.
update 4:46 p.m. Poynter updates to include this letter from Mickey Osterreicher, the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association:
According to news reports Mr. Datz complied with your officer’s unreasonable request to move away from the scene while the general public was allowed access. In the video – uploaded to YouTube — your officer acts in an angry and unprofessional manner and appears to have no concept of the first amendment rights granted to the press under the United States and New York Constitutions. Although Mr. Datz contacted your PIO officer your department was unable to do anything to rectify the situation.
…While in some situations the press may have no greater rights than those of the general public, they certainly have no less right of access on a public street, especially where a crime scene perimeter has not been clearly established.