Less than 24 hours after Baltimore police received a general order that they must allow citizens to record them in public, officers threatened to arrest a man for doing just that.
But they insisted that it wasn’t the act of video recording that would have landed him in jail.
It was the act of loitering.
Scott Cover was standing across the street from the officers who were standing over a handcuffed man early Saturday. When they spotted him, they told him to get lost. One of them approached him with handcuffs in her hand.
Cover began to walk away while reminding them of the newly issued general order.
But even as he was halfway down the street, four officers stormed up to him, continuing to threaten him arrest.
The 7-page general order states that citizens have the “absolute right” to record cops in public but it also states that citizens cannot “violate any section of any law, ordinance, code or criminal article” while recording police.
So these officers obviously believe they found a loophole that would allow them to prevent citizens from recording them.
According to the Baltimore Sun:
The police union says the officers acted appropriately and professionally; the ACLU says it shows there’s more work to be done. “I think the inescapable takeaway is that the new policy, and any training that might have been conducted on the policy, have not been effective at changing the custom and practice of the BPD with respect to citizens’ rights to record,” said Deborah Jeon, of the Maryland ACLU.
Cover, a 30-year-old who recently moved to the city, said he was walking home when he saw about six officers standing over a hooded man who was handcuffed in front of the Eight by Ten club, near Magerk’s. In the video, an officer who notices him seems aware but indifferent, saying, “Get some good footage, man. Get some good footage.” But that draws the attention of a supervisor, who tells him to “take a walk.” Another says he is loitering.
“You guys do know you have a standing order to allow people to record?” Cover says.
“Nobody took your phone away, you can record all you want,” another officer responds, as they push him up the street. After he walks up the street about 20 feet, four of the officers leave the man that is being arrested and approach him as he backpedals, one holding handcuffs.
The general order was issued on Friday.
On Monday, the hearing begins in the federal case against Baltimore police who deleted a citizen’s footage after he recorded them making an arrest.
Please send stories, tips and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org