First I will share the email that a Photography is Not a Crime reader sent to various top officials in Maryland regarding the incident between a police lieutenant and a videographer who was threatened with arrest.
And beneath that, I include the response from Maryland Capitol Police Chief Phil Palmere.
The most surprising part of the response is that the chief says he “thoroughly investigated the incident” even though it took place just two days ago.
Usually cops use the excuse of “still under investigation” to delay responding to a particular incident.
It just goes to show you that we, as citizens, have the power to influence. At least every once in a while.
A big thumbs up to the chief.
Today I viewed a YouTube video showing Maryland Capitol Police Lt. Derwyn Parker’s ignorance of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. If you have not already seen the video, please watch it here.
The people shooting the video were in no way impeding, causing a disturbance, or even demonstrating. They were peacefully standing and listening to the speaker like the other citizens in that square. They should never have been singled out because they were recording the event which was in a public space, on public land. While I am not an expert on Maryland law, but it would seem that the permit mentioned would not give them the right to decide who could observe the event, and who would be excluded. If indeed they wanted to control who could attend they should have had the event in a private meeting room, not in a public square.
In addition, Officer Parker’s threat to incarcerate the person taking the video tape is upsetting and troubling. This person did not commit a crime, the officer had no reasonable suspicion that he had or was about to commit a crime. Then Officer Parker seems to back pedal and try to justify his reprehensible actions with several lines of nonsense. Officer Parker mentions that the person taking the video became a “Problem” and “An issue”, which in viewing the video is not the case. Since when does the State of Maryland decide who can attend and listen to a speech in a public square? Since when does the State of Maryland decide that they can stop someone from taking video of an event in a public square? You might want to consult the Attorney General about freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and prior restraint.
In my opinion, Officer Parker should be sent to attend a high school civics class on the Constitution, and to re-attend his law enforcement training, both of which he seems to have forgotten. In addition, I would advocate for an official reprimand to be placed in his personnel file.
I thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Now here is the response from the Maryland Capital Police Chief.
Dear Mr. (name removed by request),
Thank you for contacting me regarding the situation that occurred on July 21 at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis. I have thoroughly investigated this incident and have concluded that the situation should have been handled differently. I regret the way this was conducted and take full responsibility for any inconvenience or embarrassment this may have caused. We are already in the process of instituting corrective training measures to address issues of this nature in the future.
We are also in the process of modifying our website to include the rules and regulations on the utilization of Lawyer’s Mall for both those who apply and are approved for permits, for those who are observing, and for any counter-demonstrators.
Once again I greatly appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention. If I can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (410) 260-2901 in Annapolis, (410) 767-6744 in Baltimore City or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chief of Police
Department of General Services Maryland Capitol Police