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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Canadian Man Ticketed and Fined for Videotaping Sleeping Cops

A Canadian man who videotaped two cops sleeping in their squad car ended up getting ticketed and fined.

Now the cops are under investigation as the video has gone viral.

Maxime Carpentier said he was driving by when he saw the cop car parked with the engine running, but didn't see anybody inside.

He parked and walked up to the car to find the two officers in deep slumber with their seats titled back, including one who was curled up in the fetal position.

One of the cops woke up, then demanded his driver license, even though Carpentier wasn't driving at the time.

After 30 minutes of detainment, Carpentier was handed a $156 ticket for having made an illegal u-turn - which we know the cops didn't witness.

The police union president defended the cops, stating they might have been on their break. Or something.

But even if that were true, it would be pretty stupid of them considering how we're always hearing how cops are in fear for their lives and how everybody wants to ambush them.

I know it's Canada where everybody is a passive and peace-loving supposedly. But still, a cop sleeping on the job in full view of the public, whether he is on break or not, is still pretty stupid and deserves to become a viral video.

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N.M. Legislators Approve Unconstitutional Rule Questioning Photography

New Mexico legislators overwhelmingly approved a resolution requiring people who wish to videotape them in public meetings to ask permission first, a resolution that is overwhelmingly unconstitutional.

The resolution, approved 35-3 with bipartisan support, does not apply to the news media, only to citizens who wish to document the meeting for their own reasons.

However, in this day and age, there is no clear definition of what constitutes the “news media.”

Besides, the First Amendment applies to everybody, not just those who are working for a corporate news company.

As of Thursday, new signs announced the rule in the Senate committee room stated the following:

“Use of any filming or photography device while committee is in session must be cleared with the committee chair,” the sign states. Then, in smaller letters, “Does not apply to the news media.”

New Mexico political blogger Heath Haussamen, who documented the above passage, describes his experience where he was questioned for attempting to take photos.

As I pointed my camera at the Senate Finance Committee chairman, John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, he stopped a hearing to ask me, in front of dozens of people, to identify myself. He asked the ranking member, Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park, if was OK with her that I photograph. I don’t remember the exact wording, but she essentially asked why I was there.

Smith explained that I run a prominent blog. Beffort deferred to Smith, and he told me it was OK to photograph.

Someone not used to being singled out by lawmakers, such as a citizen visiting the Roundhouse and trying to take a photo with a camera phone, might have felt intimidated. Because of that, he might not try to take another photograph in the Roundhouse, even though it’s a building that belongs to him.

This is exactly the kind of resolution that needs to be protested to the fullest extent with swarms of citizens entering the committee room with video cameras rolling, refusing to state the reason they are videotaping.

After all, this is still a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

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Photographing Farms would be a Felony under Proposed Law in Florida

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They don’t call it Floriduh for nothing.

A legislator in the Sunshine State has introduced a law that would make it a felony to photograph a farm from a public road.

Yes, a farm.

The bill was introduced Monday by Republican Senator Jim Norman of Tampa who stresses that cows have an expectation of privacy.

Norman already has a questionable history.

According to the Florida Tribune:

Media law experts say the ban would violate freedoms protected in the U. S. Constitution. But Wilton Simpson, a farmer who lives in Norman's district, said the bill is needed to protect the property rights of farmers and the "intellectual property" involving farm operations.

Simpson, president of Simpson Farms near Dade City, said the law would prevent people from posing as farmworkers so that they can secretly film agricultural operations.

He said he could not name an instance in which that happened. But animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Freedom display undercover videos on their web sites to make their case that livestock farming and meat consumption are cruel.

I’ve never been tempted to videotape a farm before, but now I have the crazy urge to drive up to Simpson’s farm and film his cows from the side of the road.

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Conn. Senator Introduces Bill Protecting Citizens' Right to Videotape Police

A Connecticut state senator has introduced a bill that would not only guarantee the rights of citizens to record police, but hold police accountable when they prevent citizens from doing so.

Senator Martin Looney (D-New Haven) introduced the bill last month.

As Radley Balko of Reason Magazine notes, this is the first proposed law that would give citizens the right to file civil suit against police officers for violating these rights.

As we've seen so many times on this site, police officers have become so accustomed to violating these rights, even to the point of outright lying, that they obviously believe they are immune to any type of counter-action.

A bill like this would make them think twice about trampling on our First Amendment rights to record them.

 

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New Android App Encourages Citizens to Record Police Encounters

A new application for Android users called Open Watch is claiming to have cutting edge technology to help citizens record police encounters.

However, a cursory look through the company's website doesn't look like it's anything but a platform where people can upload videos anonymously.

So how is that different from Youtube or any of the other platforms out there?

Besides, we already know it's not illegal to record police or post these videos, so is there really a pressing need to be able to upload these videos anonymously?

The real need is to be able to live-stream these videos as they are being recorded, but we already have an app for that called Qik.

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Pennsylvania Police Blatantly Lie to Reporter About Wiretapping Laws

 

Police in Pennsylvania blatantly lied to a reporter who was videotaping from a public sidewalk, stating that the reporter was violating the state’s wiretapping laws with his camera.

The reporter informed the officer that it was not illegal to videotape from a public sidewalk.

So the cop quickly changed his tune, asserting that he was merely “asking” the reporter “as a courtesy” to stop recording.

The fact that the cop knowingly lied is not surprising anymore. We’ve seen it happen so many times before.

Unfortunately, most citizens would immediately shut their camera down because they would probably think the cop was telling them the truth.

The reporter was covering a group called Showing Animals Respect and Kindness that were protesting outside a pool store because the owner also runs a business where pigeons are tossed in the air and shot for sport.

Police were called to the scene after a confrontation between protesters and a group of men in an SUV who were videotaping them.

The protesters began following them in another car while videotaping them. The two cars stopped and both parties jumped out.

One of the men from the SUV tried to grab the camera from them.

The driver of the SUV also allegedly pointed a gun at them.

The protesters apparently recorded the incident, so they downloaded the clip on a laptop and drove it down to the police station.

Police ended up confiscating both the laptop and the camera.

Now the protesters are pissed because police are not returning the laptop.

According to The Intelligencer:

District Attorney David Heckler said he didn't know the details of the investigation and that there could be several reasons police seized the laptop and the camera. He said police will likely get the victim's personal property back as soon as the investigation allows.

The article doesn’t go into more details, but they should never have given up the laptop or the camera in the first place.

They should have just uploaded the video to Youtube, before sending the cops a link.

Police also ended up forbidding a reporter from entering the premises in an attempt to ask the owner questions.

Later when the reporter attempted to enter the business to ask the owner for comment two officers blocked the reporter's path and said the owner didn't want to comment. They insisted on obtaining the reporter's identification while an officer went inside the business and returned to say that the reporter was not permitted onto the property.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when cops' initial demands to stop recording go challenged, they resort to the old, “I’m just asking as a courtesy” technique in the hopes that you will feel like an asshole for continuing to record.

But next time they ask me that, which I know they will, I will ask them as a courtesy to respect my First Amendment rights to record on public property.

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N.C. Fire Chief Arrested for Assaulting Photojournalist

North Carolina photojournalist Carter Rabil was one of the first photographers I wrote about after launching Photography is Not a Crime back in 2007.

At the time, he had been arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest – contempt of cop charges which were later dropped.

Last week, he had another incident, this time with the a fire chief and his assistant.

But this time, it is them who were placed under arrest after allegedly damaging his $3,000 camcorder during the February 15th incident in which they “pushed and shoved” him.

Bentonville Fire Chief John Claude Beasley and his assistant chief, Michael Langston, turned themselves in on Monday after warrants were issued for their arrest.

They were charged with simple assault and damage to property. They were released with a promise to appear in court on March 22.

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California Activists Harassed Twice While Protesting Red-Light Cameras

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The red light cameras that are sweeping cities across the country are pretty much scams because the companies who sell them end up splitting the fines with the municipalities.

It’s really nothing but a shakedown between a private corporation and a government entity.

And sadly, most of us believe there’s nothing we can do about it.

However, one Photography is Not a Crime reader living in California has been doing his best to inform people that they do not have to pay these fines.

And naturally, he’s been harassed by police for doing so, including two occasions where he was ordered to stop videotaping (more on that later).

“These are not really tickets,” said Benjamin Bartholomew, who lives in Northern California. “They are ‘notice of traffic violations’.

“You don’t really have to pay it. You can just ignore it and they can’t do anything about it.”

Bartholomew refers to a website called Highway Robbery that goes into more detail in how citizens can protect themselves from these scams.

Essentially, if the notice of violation you receive does not contain the address of local courthouse on it, then it’s not a real ticket, according to the site.

I wish I would have known this last October when I received one of these notices because I surely would not have paid it.

But I did pay the $158 fine (plus a $4 “convenience fee”) because they sent me a photo with my car clearly running the red light. The license plate was visible, but not the driver.

However, the notice states the following:

“If you assert that the vehicle was in the care, custody or control of another person, you must provide the name, address, date of birth, and if known, the driver’s license number of the person who leased, rented or otherwise had care, custody or control of the vehicle at the time of violation.”

“We know people who have gotten them and they just throw them away and years go by and nothing happens to them,” Bartholomew said.

Intrigued, I dug up the notice of violation I received last year and sure enough, it specifically stated: “do not send payment or affidavit to the Clerk of the Court.  Payment or affidavit must be sent directly to the City of Coral Gables.”

However, the address listed for the City of Coral Gables is a P.O. Box in Tempe, Arizona - about 2,400 miles away from Coral Gables City Hall.

It turns out the main company that makes these machines, Redflex Traffic Systems, is based in Arizona, although it is not clear if they are the ones contracted with the City of Coral Gables.

I was still a little skeptical about just being able to ignore these notices and have them go away, so I contacted one of my attorneys, Arnold Trevilla, who specializes in DUIs and criminal law.

He said the notices are more like parking tickets than moving violations, which is how they can get around having the cop not making you sign the ticket.

“You may not have parked illegally but if you don’t pay it, your car is going to get a boot on it,” he said.

He said that ignoring the notice of violations would result in your license tag getting suspended. And if you decide to fight them, they turn into moving violations.

He said it’s cheaper to just pay them and acknowledges they’re just money-makers for the cities.

However, a recent South Florida Sun-Sentinel article states that the red-light cameras are not generating the millions the municipalities hoped they would and that the state legislature might just pull the plug on them.

I find that doubtful, but we’ll see.

Meanwhile in Baltimore, a news station discovered that 2,000 red light camera citations were signed by an officer who had been dead. The signatures were supposed to confirm that the photos were reviewed by an officer to determine that a violation did occur.

And in Tennessee, almost 200 citations were refunded when it was proven that the timing of the traffic light was off. The light would remain yellow for three seconds instead of the required four.

Anyway, back to Bartholomew.

A few weeks ago in Rocklin, California, he and his brother were standing on a street corner protesting these cameras. They were wearing Guy Fawkes masks and holding up signs.

“It was purely for political theater,” he said. “We walked to where the Redflex camera was and just stood underneath it. We weren’t jumping or yelling.”

After a few minutes, a man dressed in street clothes started yelling at them from the other side of a fence. Bartholomew and his brother walked over to him and met the man at a break in the fence.

The man never identified himself as a police officer, but ended up pulling their cell phones from their hands and patting them down for weapons.

They didn’t get video of the incident, but they did get audio, which can be heard here.

The unidentified man then berates them for wearing masks in front of a bank.

Bartholomew said the bank was on the other side of the fence and he had no idea it was there, but the brother removed their masks anyway to show they meant no harm.

The man then told him he confiscated their cell phones because they could have been guns.

“I should have insisted on getting his name and badge number, but I didn’t,” he said.

Bartholomew later reported the incident to the Rocklin Police Department, who said that was the first they heard of the incident.

In a prior incident, Bartholomew had an altercation with a uniformed officer from Marysville who lied to him on two occasions.

Here is how Bartholomew describes the lies on Youtube:

Cpl. Christopher Miller tells two clear and definitive lies in an attempt to gain what he wants, control and compliance.

The first lie is made around the 2:00 mark when he says that Fire Fighters get a special permit in order to walk into the street during their "Fill The Boot" fund raising, something that clearly causes danger to motorist. According to the local Governments of Marysville and Yuba City California, no such permit exists.

The second lie is made at the end of the video 3:45 mark when he tell us it is a lawful order to tell us to stop filming him. I comply with this lie only because I know I had an audio recording on a laniard still going and news reporters standing less then 20 feet away there, hopefully preventing them from using violence against us.

That video is below. And here is an article about their protests that made it in the Appeal-Democrat, their local newspaper.

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Fox News Crew Attacked in Sacramento

Family members of a man gunned down in front of an IHOP restaurant violently attacked a Fox News crew in Sacramento early Sunday morning.

The family members were gathered on a sidewalk outside the International House of Pancakes where they were setting up a memorial for Chester Jackson, the 27-year-old man who was murdered.

When Fox 40 News reporter John Lobertini and camerawoman Rebecca Little approached the family for interviews - which is standard fare when somebody gets murdered outside a public restaurant - they were quickly attacked.

The top video shows the perspective from Little's camera. The bottom video shows the perspective from the camera of another news team.

Here is a New York Daily News article on the incident.

One woman pulled Little's hair and dragged her down on the ground. A few others threw punches at Lobertini as they chased him away.

The irony is that the news crew was trying to give the family a chance to humanize the victim; an opportunity to allow viewers to see Jackson as more than just another crime figure.

But now his violent murder will be overshadowed by the violence his family displayed.

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Charges dropped against Florida student arrested for videotaping cops

Not only were charges dropped against a Florida college student arrested for videotaping police officers last month, evidence has emerged that officers fabricated the police report.

But as usual, police have gone into plausible deniability by having a Tarpon Springs police captain going on the record with a TV reporter stating that he was unaware of such a fabrication.

But the evidence is out there for the world to see; a huge letdown considering the officer in question was named Cop of the Year in 2009.

According to Kilgore’s video from the night of arrest, Tarpon Springs Police Cpl. Steve Gassen told him that he was committing a federal felony by videotaping them and can be jailed on a $5,000 bond.

But Gassen apparently thought better about writing such blatant misinformation in the police report because he then wrote that he had informed Kilgore that he had every right to videotape a traffic stop.

Kilgore was arrested after he refused to hand to the camera over. Kilgore’s friend tried to videotape the arrest, but his camera was confiscated as well.

But a judge said Gassen had no right confiscate these cameras. Let’s see how quickly they file a lawsuit.

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