Austin police are trying their best to deter Antonio Buehler from recording them in public, doing everything from arresting him, accusing him of “inciting violence” against them and attempting to create a rule in his honor that would require citizens with cameras to stand at least 50 feet away from police officers
But Buehler is hardly deterred, vowing to keep cops within the scopes of his video camera.
And the West Point grad is not alone, having created a growing movement called Peaceful Streets where fellow activists join him in recording cops interacting with the public.
In fact, he and fellow activists were out on the streets again Sunday night after his latest arrest Saturday night in which he spent 17 hours in jail on a charge of interference.
It was all he could do considering his arrest forced him to miss his 6 a.m. flight to Tampa where he was coming for the Republican National Convention.
Police have refused to return his camera, claiming it is “evidence” against him, which is unlawful, according the U.S. Department of Justice’s guidelines on how police should deal with citizens who record them.
But a fellow activist captured his arrest on video, which is posted below. His arrest begins around the 7:15 mark after the man who was initially getting arrested claimed that Buehler was harassing him.
That, of course, is hogwash. In fact, it’s all hogwash.
Especially the new rule they promise to start enforcing next week that would require citizens with cameras to stand at least 50 feet away while other citizens can stand closer.
Unfortunately, Austin media is unwilling to call the Austin Police Department on its bullshit, spreading the lie that things “got out of control” when Buehler insisted on recording them Saturday night, which is why they had to arrest him.
Anybody who views the nine-minute video below can see things were hardly out of control.
Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, provided the following statement when I sent him the above news clip on their proposed new regulation.
“While the video of his arrest is inconclusive (as I really can’t tell what actually happened prior to the arrest). Also I would have to read the actual language but I do believe that the new ordinance the police are seeking that those with cameras remain 50′ away from officers is an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment in that it is overly broad and restricts far more speech (free expression) than is necessary to achieve a governmental goal. I also think that rather than try to regulate those with cameras, the Austin police need to do a better job establishing guidelines and provide training for its officers regarding this issue.”
Buehler, who was arrested on New Year’s Day for felony harassment on a public servant for photographing police manhandling a woman at a gas station, believes police are trying to taint the grand jury who will decide within the next ten days on whether or not to proceed on that case.
“They know one of their officers will likely face a lawsuit from that arrest,” he said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Tuesday morning.
If convicted, he can face up to ten years in prison, but he is confident he will beat the case.
“No prosecutor is going to want to get within 100 feet of this case,” he said.
Since that first arrest, Buehler launched Peaceful Streets where he raised $20,000 that went towards 100 video cameras that were handed out to Austin citizens.
“We are spreading out to other cities as well,” he said. “Dallas-Fort Worth is getting involved and so is Manchester, New Hampshire.”
Basically, citizens walk around in groups of at least two members and start recording police as they interact with citizens on public streets.
On Saturday night, police responded to an incident where a man had pushed his fiancée down to the ground. It turned out, the man had a warrant, which is why he was arrested.
Buehler and other activists began recording the interaction.
“She walked up to us and I told her we were filming for her safety and she hugged me and walked over to her fiancée and told him,” Buehler said.
“He looks at me and gives me the thumbs up sign.”
But as two cops led the man away and Buehler and another activist began following, a third cop arrived and began ordering “Mr. Buehler” to back away.
“I was standing more than 25 feet away,” Buehler said.
While the cop kept ordering Buehler to back away, the handcuffed suspect began threatening Buehler by saying he is going to kick his ass.
The cop, who Buehler believes may be named “Berry,” then asks the suspect whether Buehler was harassing him. The suspect says yes, which is when the cop made the arrest.
Just as it wasn’t felony harassment on a public servant the night of his previous arrest, it is not harassment to video record a handcuffed suspect on a public street.
But Austin police are doing all they can to spin this in that way and the local media is doing nothing but helping them do it, including publishing a grammatically incorrect headline that states his actions “put officer’s lives at risk.”
“He’s provoking police officers, he’s inciting violence against police officer, its become a very dangerous thing,” said Wayne Vincent, President of the Austin Police Association. “If you’re filming the police and trying to find them doing something wrong, you don’t do it by getting up in their face of the police officers and let them know you’re filming.”
Buehler was hardly in their face, but My Fox Austin is too spineless to say it.
“Yesterday, police held a press conference and they presented their story and shared their affidavit and the media ran with it,” he said.
“Since when do police call a press conference on a misdemeanor arrest?”
Please send stories, tips and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
Facebook PINAC Page
Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested. I did not pay for this transplant, which is why I’m promoting the doctor through the hair transplant blog.