The Philadelphia Police Department is now facing its fifth lawsuit for “retaliating against individuals who observe or record the police performing their duties” filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania alone.
Amanda Geraci, a professional psychotherapist and a trained legal observer, was trying to record Philadelphia police officers arresting a protester outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center when she was “forcefully restrained across the neck” by a Philadelphia “civil affairs” officer.
According to the ACLU-PA:
After witnessing police take a protestor into custody and handcuff him inside the Convention Center, Geraci remained outside but walked over to a spot on the other side of the glass wall to record the incident. Then, according to the complaint, “Officer Brown approached her at a full run and threw her up against a pillar on the Convention Center’s facade.” Officer Brown then pushed her forearm against Geraci’s neck. Police officers quickly surrounded Brown and Geraci to block the ability of others in the crowd to witness or record the officer’s use of force against Geraci.
“I have been a legal observer for eight years at numerous protests and I have never experienced anything like this,” said Geraci. “I was shocked when Officer Brown pushed me against a column and restrained me by my neck, just for recording the activities of her colleagues as they arrested someone.”
The incident occurred on September 21, 2012 outside of an anti-fracking protest and in the time since ACLU-PA officials say Philadelphia police still have not shown that they recognize Photography Is Not A Crime.
“We have yet to see any indication that the leadership of the Philadelphia Police Department is requiring its officers to respect the First Amendment rights of Philadelphia residents in these situations,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Until they get it right, we will continue to hold them accountable to the citizens they have sworn an oath to protect.”
The ACLU-PA’s other lawsuits against Philadelphia police include a suit where an undergraduate student was arrested for photographing on-duty Philadelphia police officers, and a suit where a woman was arrested and held for three hours in handcuffs for observing a police officer in public. You can request help filing a lawsuit with the ACLU-PA or read more about the ACLU-PA’s previous lawsuits against the Philadelphia police department at their website, and see more pictures of Amamda Geraci’s arrest and complaint documents here.