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.