Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Third Circuit Decision: Recording Police Is Protected By First Amendment

Some good news for a change


Source: ACLU

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has decided in Richard Fields v. City of Philadelphia, that recording police officers engaged in their official duties is protected by the first amendment. This makes the third circuit the 6th appellate court to rule in favor of freedom of the press when it comes to recording police and overturns the District Court's decision that recording the police is not protected by the first amendment unless the bystander explicitly gives his purpose for recording the police and presents an objection to their activity. The Philadelphia Police department recognized that recording police activity was protected by the first amendment as far back as 2011. The department published a memorandum advising officers not to retaliate against civilian bystanders recording their activity 6 years ago. And again in 2012 they published a directive that repeated this point. Yet in 2013, Richard Fields was illegally arrested and searched for taking a photo of police clearing out a house party. The problem clearly lies with the officers' egos, not the department's policies or the constitution. Hopefully, the other seven courts of appeal will follow suit and put and end to their power trip.

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