With his camera pointed towards Minneapolis officers searching a suspect’s book bag, Derrick Revies made sure he remained behind the crime scene tape police had set up to establish their perimeter.
But that was not enough for the cops, who ordered him away, even though there were several other citizens without cameras watching the arrest.
“Hey, guy? Go down the sidewalk. Get off the sidewalk,” one cop barked at him.
“I”m on the sidewalk,” Revies responded to the contradictory orders.
Within seconds, the cop snatched his camera and walked him down the sidewalk.
“We’re not going to stand here and film. Go down the sidewalk and I’ll give you your camera back.”
“I have the right to be here,” Revies responded.
“Shut the fuck up,” the cop barked back.
The cop handed back his camera and walked away. Revies remained in the spot and kept recording.
The cop walked back and gave him the tired, old spiel about safety.
“Our main concern is the safety of those people,” he said.
But that was also Revies’ main concern, which was why he was recording.
“I’m making sure nobody’s rights are being violated,” he said.
That was when he was arrested, his own rights violated.
Revies believes the cop’s name was Velez, but he isn’t sure. But his badge number is 3212.
He was charged with obstructing the legal process, a charge which should be dismissed, especially considering the video evidence, but prosecutors rarely allow evidence to keep them from following through on unlawful charges.
Revies, 45, began video recording cops less than a month ago after learning of a couple of police beatings. He reached out to Mike Smith of Film the Police Portland, who gave him the green light to launch Film the Police Minneapolis.
Film the Police is just one of several organizations that have sprung up over the years whose mission is to monitor police with video cameras and the internet. Others include Cop Block, the Peaceful Streets Project and We Copwatch, the latter part of Copwatch, the original police monitoring group, but who never got into the habit of posting videos online because its mission was to gather evidence for trials.
Now that PINAC is able to receive tax-deductible donations, we are attempting to create a platform where we will serve as an umbrella organization for all these groups. Part of the plan is to create a network of attorneys in every state whom we can use to defend citizens when they get arrested for video recording.
Anybody can see that Revies has a strong case, but he does not have the funds nor the contacts to hire a reliable lawyer, one who is willing to take it all the way to trial if it comes down to that, so he may have to rely on a public defender who might not have the time to fight the case if the district attorney refuses to dismiss the charge.