Seven security guards were dispatched to deal with an 11-year-old girl who had snapped a photo of a Taco Bell inside the food court of an Indiana shopping mall Friday night, insisting that she delete the photo.
But the girl, who was in tears because she thought she was going to jail, had already deleted the photo after the Taco Bell manager had threatened to sue her.
All she wanted was a photo to post on Facebook or Instagram or text to her friends or to do whatever an 11-year-old girl who is a big fan of Taco Bell would do with a photo that probably didn’t look any different from any other photo of any other Taco Bell in any other food court in any other state.
This is about as cookie-cutter as it gets.
Where is the surveillance video? Illustration by Bobby Stewart
Despite the fact that St. Louis MetroLink claimed to have surveillance video showing Ken Suitter sticking his camera in the faces of train commuters, which is what led to his arrest, police dropped the trespassing charges against him this week.
Obviously, the footage doesn’t exist, which makes one wonder just exactly who did they think they were fooling when they posted the following statement on their Facebook page.
In this photo, taken after cops were called on us for making a public records request in Coral Gables last month, Jeff Gray is carrying three recording devices, two that can be seen as well as an audio recorder inside his shirt. Photo by Carlos Miller
Documenting public officials is a well established liberty protected by the First Amendment. Unfortunately engaging in this activity can be very dangerous for the observer. Over the years, while running the Youtube channel HONORYOUROATH, I have learned how critical it can be for your safety to record all encounters with public officials.
A perfect example of how a seemingly ordinary encounter with public officials can turn into a disaster for the citizen is the story of Rita Hutchins, a petite Idaho woman who last year was requesting public records in Sandpoint City Hall for a lawsuit against the city when she was bullied by government officials, ordering her to leave.
An Oxnard police officer attacked a man for attempting to video record an arrest last week, twisting the man’s arm behind his back and violently shoving him against a bench after the man had placed the phone in his pocket.
The cop threatened to arrest the man for refusing to hand over his phone as “evidence” before a commanding officer intervened, telling the cop he was out of line.
Perhaps there was a day when law enforcement officers were able to cite some nonexistent statute to scare citizens into following unlawful orders.
Those days are pretty much over considering citizens today are much more aware of their rights and the law thanks to the internet (and sites like Photography is Not a Crime, thank you very much).