Thursday, February 2, 2012

Is it a felony to videotape a police officer on the job in Illinois?

The short answer is yes.

Should it be?

Consider this, one of my favorite Supreme Court passages (from City of Houston v. Hill):
The Constitution does not allow such speech to be made a crime. The freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.
That case struck down a law that made it a crime "for any person to assault, strike or in any manner oppose, molest, abuse or interrupt any policeman in the execution of his duty," which had been used to justify the arrest of a bystander for "verbal challenge [of a police officer] during an investigation."  The specific "verbal challenge" was: "Why don't you pick on somebody your own size?"

It seems to me that if there is a right to shout at the police—and there is—there should also be a right to document their official activities in public.


See here for an update regarding judicial and legislative action on this law..

1 comment:

  1. As much as it pains me to agree with Dahlia Lithwick, I agree that state legislatures should not be trying to make this sort of activity a crime.


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