In police arrests, photography is not a crime

A Detroit Free Press photographer was arrested by police as she filmed an arrest. While she was detained, the SIM card in her iPhone that she was using mysteriously disappeared.

A man who didn’t identify himself as a cop told her to turn the camera off, and when she identified herself as a journalist, he said, “I don’t care who you are.”

He should, because it would convey that he had a clue about the Constitution. Federal courts have already ruled that preventing someone from filming police on a public way — assuming they’re not actually obstructing an arrest — is a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments.

The National Press Photographers Association has filed a protest. But it’s worked hard over the last few years to remind police that filming an arrest is protected speech, to little avail. This sort of incident happens almost ever day, according to the blog, Photography Is Not A Crime.

Detroit police say they’re launching an internal investigation.

It shouldn’t take long.

  • In our increasingly authoritarian nation defying police instructions of any sort, appropriate or in appropriate, right or wrong, legal or illegal, is to risk arrest including its accompanying indignities: tasering with its risk of death, cuffing, transport, booking, humiliating cavity search, confiscation of goods, and imprisonment for extended periods. This will not change until the Rule of Law is re-established and the rights of citizens are accorded some respect, which in turn will not happen until the public demands it.

  • Jack Boardman

    “It shouldn’t take long..” I’m not sure, but it seems like a little skepticism has crept-in to your post.

    • No. It actually SHOULDN’T take long. Why would it?

      • Morgan

        In what sense are you using the word “shouldn’t”? Just because it shouldn’t doesn’t mean it won’t. How many examples can you find of police departments taking real action in situations like these absent a court ruling?

        • I can’t answer that. I only know one use of “shouldn’t.” It should not take along time. It might take a long time. But it shouldn’t take a long time.

      • Jack Boardman

        I agree, it shouldn’t. I wonder if there will be a follow-up article; I won’t hold my breath.