The ACLU of Pennsylvania is living up to its promise of suing the Philadelphia Police Department for arresting citizens attempting to observe or record them in public.
That’s right, police are no longer just singling out citizens with cameras. They are arresting citizens who are simply standing there watching them.
In January, the ACLU filed the first of what they promised would be a series of lawsuits.
Last week, they filed two more: one on behalf of Coulter Loeb, a photojournalism student who was arrested after he photographed police moving a homeless woman out of a park; the other on behalf of Alexine Fleck, a college professor who didn’t even have a camera as she observed cops making an arrest.
According to an ACLU press release:
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On the morning of June 15, 2011, Fleck was walking down her block on her way to work when she noticed a police officer standing over a semi-conscious man sitting on a stoop. Concerned about the officer’s aggressive manner, Fleck stopped to observe the interaction. Fleck complied with the officer’s order to step back ten steps. She was then asked to leave the area. When she refused to leave and explained that she was merely observing, she was arrested.
Ms. Fleck was handcuffed behind her back, even after she advised the officer that her shoulder was injured and to have both arms pulled behind her back would cause her great pain.
Fleck was transported to the police precinct and held for three hours. She remained cuffed, in pain, for the entire time. She also was not allowed to notify colleagues that she would be unable to teach her class that morning. Fleck was charged with failure to disperse. The charges were later dismissed in Community Court.