Back in November, a Florida Atlantic University student named Kelvin Elmond was arrested for trying to video record a group of aggressive Broward sheriff’s deputies as they arrested other students during a fraternity party that apparently had gotten a little too loud.
Elmond told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he spent the night in jail on a resisting arrest charge and when he was released, his footage had been deleted.
The Sun Sentinel didn’t think this information was very newsworthy, burying it towards the bottom of its article.
“I was standing next to my roommate and the cops just grabbed him as he was walking away,” said Edmond, an urban design major from Miramar. “He said, ‘Get your hands off me,’ and they put him in a chokehold. I was videotaping it and the cop hit me and took my phone.
“Then I started walking away and a cop bull-rushed me, knocked me to the ground and handcuffed me.”
When Edmond got his phone back, the video he shot was erased, he said.
In the days after the article was published, I sent Edmond two messages through Facebook in an attempt to get more details, but he never responded nor did he accept my friend request, so I was just going to let it go as there is no shortage of similar stories for PINAC.
But later this month, I will be sitting on a right to record panel with Ron Gunzberger, general counsel for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, so it might be worth exploring that incident as it exemplifies the problem we are trying to resolve.
That a large percentage of cops around this country have no respect for the Constitution when it comes to citizens’ right to record as they conduct their public duties.
If Elmond’s allegations are true, then it is especially troublesome considering it was only in May 2013 that the Florida Supreme Court ruled that police do not have the right to view the contents of a cell phone without a search warrant, not to mention the United States Department of Justice made it clear in 2012 that it is illegal for police officers to delete footage from the cameras of citizens.
Moderating the panel will be Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, one of the sponsors along with the Broward chapter of the ACLU and the SDX Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists.
The panel is free and open to the public and will be held from 12-3 pm Saturday, January 25, at the West Regional Library, 8601 West Broward Boulevard, Plantation, FL 33324.
PINAC partners Joel Chandler and Jeff Gray also plan to drive down for the event, so this can turn into a lot of fun considering the characters already involved. We would love to see you there.