The trend of police claiming ignorance over smartphones, insinuating that they could be weapons, continued last week when police in Arkansas ripped a phone out of a man’s hands as he was recording before the cop pulled out a Taser and threatened him with it.
The incident took place Wednesday as two men were trying to access an area outside Little Rock where an Exxon pipeline ruptured last month, spilling 5,000 barrels of oils in a subdivision called Mayflower.
Exxon has hired local police officers as security guards, which creates a huge conflict of interest, as Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, pointed out in this article.
The NPPA has also been protesting against other instances of restricting photographer access to the oil spill.
In the latest video, the two men, who were recording with the smartphones, said they had permission from the property owners when they were confronted by two police officers ordering them to leave for their safety.
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The cops referred to the phones as “devices” and ordered them to turn them off. The first man did but the second man kept recording, which is when one of the cops became aggressive.
“Put your device down.”
“Why do I have to put my device down?”
“We don’t know what it is. Put your device down.”
According to the Youtube description:
Rod and I had just been speaking with property owners along the edge of the lake. We had permission to be there. These officers forced us to stop filming. Literally. The officer on the right ripped my iPhone from my hands and drew down on me with a taser. As of this day, April 17, 2013, I have uttered the words, “Don’t tase me bro.”
After a 20 minute lecture about the dangers of snakes, ticks, various and sundry other warnings about spending the afternoon in jail, we tried to leave. That’s when a Mayflower police officer issued Rod a citation for a) Parking in a Prohibited Area and b) Interfering with a Government Operation.
A government operation? That pretty much takes the cake. The only posted sign anywhere NEAR this section of Lake Conway is a red tape between a few trees which reads: “DANGER”
Funny way for the government to cordon off its “operations”. Maybe it’s just me, but concerned citizens documenting an oil spill are being fined. What will Exxon’s fine be for the wholesale destruction of wetlands vital to the Lake Conway ecosystem?