Monthly archives: June 2011

June 30th, 2011

Virginia Woman Escorted Out Of Public Meeting For Taking Photo 0

By Carlos Miller

scott_littner.jpg

In another case of public officials not wanting citizens to document their public meetings, a Virginia woman was escorted out the Loudoun County Board of Equalization meeting Tuesday evening after she snapped a photo of two board members conducting official business.

Beverly Bradford, who freelances for a local news site but was not on assignment, was ordered by BOE Chairman Scott Littner to either “turn over or delete the image,” according to the Ashburn Patch.

Bradford refused, stating that she had the right to document the meeting under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

That was when a sheriff’s deputy arrived.

Bradford said she attempted to hand over her equipment and purse to the deputy at which point she was asked to step outside to discuss the matter further. She first objected, stating she needed to hear the meeting. However, she relented, feeling she had little choice. Bradford described an intimidating scene with her sitting while BOE Chairman Scott Littner and the deputy stood over her and interrogated her.

The deputy at least had enough sense to inform Littner that he did not have the authority to make her delete the image, but he escorted her from the room anyway.

Bradford was told she needed advance permission to record the meeting, which contradicts state law, according to the Ashburn Patch.

Nevertheless, she had informed a county official earlier that morning that she planned to cover the meeting.

The Board of Equalization is a public body that reviews property assessments.

The BOE’s own administrative procedures grant residents the right to photograph or record meetings: “Any person seeking to photograph, film, record, or otherwise reproduce a portion of a BOE meeting required to be open may do so, as long as the placement of the equipment does not interfere with the meeting,” the procedures read.

However, the bylaws go on to say “The BOE must be notified prior to the commencement of photographing, filming recording or other reproduction of any portion of a meeting.”

Those bylaws seem to overstep state law. The Board of Equalization qualifies as a public body subject to the rules Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, according a 1984 opinion from the Virginia Attorney General as well as a document on the state’s FOIA Advisory Council website.

Referencing those opinions, Alan Gernhardt, an attorney with the FOIA Advisory Council, said his reading is that the BOE cannot escape the FOIA rules for public bodies. “They’re a public body,” he said.

 

June 29th, 2011

Activist Arrested For Videotaping Inside New Hampshire Courthouse 0

By Carlos Miller

Court officials in New Hampshire first claimed it was a federal violation to videotape them inside the city courthouse.

But they could only come up with a measly disorderly conduct charge when they arrested an activist Tuesday who continued to videotape them against their wishes.

The arrest is part of the ongoing drama between a group of activists who call themselves the Free State Project and local authorities in Keene, a city of just over 23,000.

The goal of the Free State Project is to double Keene’s population by bringing in more than 20,000 libertarian-leaning people and therefore turning New Hampshire into a libertarian stronghold.

The activists spend a great deal of time testing out the system and being a thorn in the side to Judge Edward Burke.

The latest incident began Tuesday morning when Burke had Adam “Ademo Freeman” Mueller arrested for “improper influence,” a felony, after Mueller was apparently questioning him about the arrest of another activist for failing to remove his hat in court.

You may remember Mueller as part of Liberty on Tour who got a first-hand taste of overbearing Metrorail security guards during his visit to Miami last October.

He was also arrested for contempt of court in Keene earlier this year.

So after he was arrested on Tuesday, activists Jason Repsher and Derrick Horton visited the Keene District Courthouse to inquire about his arrest.

Repsher entered first with the camera and was told he was committing a federal crime by continuing to videotape the public officials against their will.

It is actually legal to videotape inside the courtrooms in New Hampshire and there doesn’t appear to be a law stating that it is illegal to videotape outside the courtrooms.

But the man, who appeared to be a bailiff because of a badge on his chest, gave him two minutes to shut it off.

Horton then apparently grabbed the same camera and continued videotaping, inquiring which is the policy that forbids him from doing so.

The bailiff pointed to something posted on a wall but before Horton could videotape it, he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and released that same afternoon.

So much for that federal violation.

June 29th, 2011

Apple Patent Would Give Third-Parties Power To Disable Your iPhone Camera 0

By Carlos Miller

Apple might be developing technology that would allow third-parties to disable the camera on your iPhone, rendering it useless to shoot video or take photos.

The patent, which was filed in December 2009 but became public this month in various news reports, states that it would be designed to prevent people from recording shaky, low-quality videos of live bands that annoyingly either begin or cut-off in mid-song and usually consists of the back of somebody’s head obscuring the stage.

After all, we all know those videos are much more interesting than the clear, crisp professionally made videos produced by the bands themselves that can be found just as quickly on Youtube.

But critics across the internet have pointed out that this technology would likely end up in the hands of police who would use it to disable your camera to allow them to continue trampling all over your Constitutional rights without any documenting evidence.

And that’s not hard to believe considering the number of stories that have kept this blog alive more than four years.

And just last week, the hacker group LulzSec uncovered documentation from the Arizona State Police that further confirms what we already know. That police fear cameras and recording devices almost as much as they do guns.

Especially those pesky iPhones.

A document labeled “iphone apps- used against officers.doc” front-line officers encourages officers making an arrest to search for iPhones or other smartphones and look specifically to see what apps are running on them.

Specifically the document warns that an app called Cop Recorder can be activated while the phone is in a suspect’s pocket to record what happens during an arrest, then upload the audio to a network server beyond the officer’s reach

The contract on my iPhone 3Gs is set to expire in September and I was considering upgrading to the iPhone 5, which is supposed to be released around that time.

But I will probably weigh my options to see what other smart phones are available that will not be rendered useless under this new technology.

June 28th, 2011

Maybe This Is Why Cops Don't Want Us To Take Photos 0

By Carlos Miller

seattlegun.jpg

Not only does this Seattle police car appear to be parked more than 12 inches from the curb, its officers carelessly left this AR-15 rifle sitting on the trunk of the car while they ate donuts or drank gourmet coffee or whatever it is Seattle cops do when they are not abusing citizens.

A camera-carrying citizen snapped a photo, then flagged down a couple of bike-riding Seattle cops while a woman then followed the cop car around with the rifle in the back.

So gathering from the little details provided by The Stranger, is appears that the cops then returned to the car and started driving it, oblivious to the high-power rifle sitting on the trunk.

Police officials now say they are “very embarrassed” over the incident, adding that they are not sure if the gun was loaded, which means it probably was.

June 28th, 2011

Orlando Copwatch Founder To Go On Trial For Videotaping Incident 0

By Carlos Miller

The Orlando Copwatch founder who was arrested on New Year’s Eve after videotaping a police officer making an arrest is scheduled to go on trial Wednesday (tomorrow).

John Kurtz is charged with battery on a police officer after a cop accused him of hitting him in the chest. He is also facing resisting arrest without violence and obstruction charges.

He is facing six years in prison.

Meanwhile, the video camera he was using to record that night – the one that would likely prove what really took place that night – went missing after police impounded it. Nobody has any logical explanation as to where it could have gone.

And the cop who arrested him, Orlando police officer Adam Gruler who is renowned for his frequent use of his Taser gun also has a history of arresting people for videotaping him.

In 2007, he arrested a WFTV news videographer who was questioning him on the side of the road after Gruler, not in uniform, was pulled over by Orange County sheriff deputies for apparently driving reckless.

Here is a video of the incident but I haven’t been able to find any other information on it.

 

Kurtz’s trial was originally scheduled for last month but it was postponed for tomorrow.

Here is a Facebook page with all the details about his arrest and case, encouraging local residents to attend in support of Kurtz. I would attend if I lived in the area.

Kurtz, who spent seven days in jail after his arrest, has been playing a huge role in documenting the ongoing arrests of activists defying an Orlando ordinance by feeding homeless people in a city park.

On a related note, the hacker group Anonymous has vowed to go all out on the City of Orlando if it doesn’t stop arresting people for feeding the homeless.

Maybe Anonymous can find the missing camera.

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