A New Jersey town preparing to pass an ordinance that would have made it illegal to video record inside a government building decided to shelve the proposed amendment after the story generated a viral backlash against the town, much of it from PINAC readers.
The Helmetta borough introduced the ordinance in the wake of a viral video where a local cop said he didn’t have to follow the Constitution because President Obama doesn’t follow the Constitution, leading to his forced resignation.
Helmetta officials figured they could prevent further embarrassing videos by making it illegal to video record inside government buildings.
But if they didn’t learn anything about the power of the internet from the first video, they probably learned it this time around.
According to the My Central New Jersey:
Under the proposed ordinance, a permit would have to be secured and approved by the borough before any photographs or videos could be taken on the interior of any public building. The proposed ordinance did not apply to the taking of pictures and videos at any meetings held in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.
Councilwoman Yvette Bruno, who was was initially in favor of the ordinance, said she has since changed her mind.
“At first, I was told it was against the law to take photos or videos in municipal buildings, but then I found out I was misled,” Bruno said. “Once I had the facts, I knew I would vote against it. Right now I am still against it. It’s not legal and I don’t think it should be a concern unless you are trying hide something. I still feel it is not OK to take pictures of children, transactions involving credit cards or personal information or even things like license plates on cars.”
Bruno said council members voiced their concerns and the ordinance was taken off the table — at least for now.
Mayor Nancy Martin recently said the proposed ordinance addresses safety and was not the result of Special Police Officer Richard Recine telling Spotswood resident Steve Wronko that “Obama has decimated the friggin’ Constitution, so I don’t give a damn.” This occurred when Wronko insisted he has a constitutional right to take pictures inside the municipal building. Recine resigned after the video was shared widely online.
“We’ve had some issues at the animal shelter where people are filming and recording when people are paying by check and credit card,” Martin said. “People were starting to feel uncomfortable about being filmed and photographed. There has to be some control. It’s a safety issue for people’s privacy.”
But readers and commenters all over the Internet aren’t buying it.
“Now the Helmetta borough council figures it doesn’t have to follow the Constitution either by introducing an ordinance forbidding photography and video recording inside government buildings,” the website Photography Is Not a Crime wrote in response to the proposed ordinance. “So that gives us an entire month to remind the idiots in Helmetta that they still live in the United States.”