Arkansas Cops Arrest 79-Year Old Legislator who Championed Right to Record Police for Recording Police - PINAC News
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Arkansas Cops Arrest 79-Year Old Legislator who Championed Right to Record Police for Recording Police

It was an apparent case of retaliation, but you’d have to see the video to believe it.

“Give us a call; we’ll be there when you need our help,” joked Little Rock Arkansas cops Jason Roberts and Thomas Thompson.

The two Arkansas cops who were so offended by a 79-year old legislator named John Walker who championed people’s Constitutional right to record police that they arrested him for recording a traffic stop.

Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner immediaetly dropped the charges against Walker and wrote an apology for the arrest, which was caught on dash cam.

The shocking dashcam footage released last week shows dialogue between the two cops and Walker getting heated as they accuse him of being a “race baiter” for simply standing along the of the street recording them during a routine traffic stop of a black male.

As the dialogue ensues, Roberts and Thomas aggressively approach Walker.

“Mr. Walker, what is your concern today?”

“I’m here just to observe.”

“I’ve observed policemen at times, when they was involved in a case when they were arresting some black boys about ten years ago” said the legislator and civil rights lawyer. “They arrested me for watching.”

“Officer Roberts began lecturing Walker about how the driver had expired tags, and that he was training another officer and treated the guy he pulled over with respect, even though he arrested him for a traffic warrant,” he tried to calmly explain.

“And that’s why he’s in that car,” officer Roberts explained as if he didn’t have the discretion to let the man go without arresting him.

The conversation soon devolves in to Roberts screaming out at Walker.

“You’re a race baiter is what you are, OK?”

“I’m just telling you how it is, Mr. Walker.”

“What did I do?” asked Walker.

” You’re sitting there filming,” replied R0berts.

“This aint the first time you’ve done this, neither. You’ve been doing this since 1994, since I’ve been here” said Roberts, who in 2009, was one of two cops who shot and killed a black mentally ill man after his family called them for help.

Police then ask him if he would have stopped to record if it were a white person.

As officer Roberts walked back to his patrol car, apparently to mull over possibly arresting Walker he joked and sarcastically told, “give us a call. We’ll be there if you need our help.”

Which is the thin blue lines way of saying they wouldn’t help him because he chose to exercise his right to record police in public.

Police then ask him if he would have stopped to record if it were a white person.

Officer Roberts then walks back to the patrol car, apparently to mull over possibly arresting Walker and tells him, “give us a call. We’ll be there if you need our help.”

“By all means, call us,” said Thomas.

They then begin giving him directions, telling him where to stand when it was they who approached him.

Little Rock police then came back and arrested Walker, charging him with obstructing government duty.

Although he was released shortly after posting a $1,000 bond.

One of the officers can be heard saying the 79-year-old civil rights lawyer had been a “thorn in the side of police,” which means he has spent decades observing and recording them conducting traffic stops on black people.

In 2015, the democrat co-sponsored a right to record bill with a republican legislator, according to the Arkansas Times.

The bill explicitly prohibits law enforcement from: 1) trying to stop citizens from photographing or making recordings; 2) deleting electronic data or other information the citizen recorded unless it’s considered contraband; 3) seizing or confiscating a recording device unless it’s being used for the commission of a crime or for some other legitimate law enforcement purpose.

And it has teeth: the state would waive sovereign immunity if the law was violated (punitive damages are not provided by the bill).

The bill covers various reasonable exceptions: the right to record would not extend to violations of privacy; the bill would not apply to medical facilities or publicly funded schools; private property owners could still restrict or prohibit recording on their property. Plus other exemptions relating to ensuring that the bill does not extend the right to record to people committing a crime, violating copyright law, creating a risk to physical safety, circumventing established procedures that require permission or payment to record, etc.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Womack, was pushed by an unusual pair: Dan Greenberg, the conservative former state legislator and president of the right-wing Advance Arkansas Institute, and civil rights attorney and Democratic state representative John Walker.

The issue is personal for Walker, who co-sponsored the bill. In 1998, Walker was driving with his daughter and two grandchildren and stopped to observe a traffic stop of young black men by white Pine Bluff police officers. Walker parked and walked across the street to observe the encounter. An officer walked over and asked him what he was doing and Walker stated that he was watching “Pine Bluff’s finest in action.” Walker was arrested for “obstructing governmental operations” and then, according to Walker’s testimony, the officer “drove Walker at varying speeds over dark wooded roads to the police station.” Walker was never charged and successfully sued the city of Pine Bluff.

Since his latest arrest, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner issued a letter of apology, dropping the charges and cutting him a check for the money spent on bail.

But Walker said he doesn’t accept the apology for his arrest, and expects to file a lawsuit.

Chief Buckner’s written apology letter, as well as House Rep Walker’s written refusal to accept his apology, is included below.

 

Chief Kenton Buckner's apology to Arkansas State Legislator 79-Year-Old John Walker.

Chief Kenton Buckner’s apology to Arkansas State Legislator 79-Year-Old John Walker.

Apology to Arkansas State Legislator 79-Year-Old John Walker.

Apology to Arkansas State Legislator 79-Year-Old John Walker.

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