MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki reported last week on an effort by the ACLU to train attorneys to help out during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul next week. The effort seems to focus on making sure due process is followed once any protesters are arrested.
In Denver, I got a look at a similar effort, only this one provides legal representation and assistance when dealing with the biggest show of force in Denver — the media.
A cameraman from World News in Canada was filming some protesters who were “being treated for injuries.” There had been no confrontation with any police.
Some of the protesters made a high-decibel request to stop photographing, and damaged the man’s camera. A crowd gathered, and cameras and microphones appeared like mosquitoes to bare skin.
That’s when the legal adviser stepped in to inform us that it was illegal to be filming people.
“You wouldn’t go into a hospital ward and film,” he said.
“But you’re in a public place,” the cameraman informed him, “and I have a right to film.”
“Under the Constitution, they have a right to privacy,” the legal expert informed him, staking out an odd week, odd location, and odd activity to be asserting a privacy right.
Al Crespo, a photographer who documents major protests and is a well-known gadfly in the protest community, stepped in and told the cameraman he needed to “stop whining about your rights and move on.”
Irony is not in short supply in Denver.