A Port Authority police officer tried to intimidate a man from recording officers trying to pull a man off a bus in New York City Saturday.
But the cop backed off as soon as Nick Hentoff mentioned he was an attorney.
His video shows Port Authority officers’ attempting to remove a passenger from the bus. The passenger appeared dazed. The passenger also fell down as he tried to stand up.
It was then that a officer on scene got off the bus and confronted Hentoff for video recording saying:
“Hey what are you doing? Are you recording something? I want you to go away. Sir leave.”
Hentoff informed the officer that it is perfectly legal to video record police, and the police do not have the legal authority to tell someone to leave the scene while exercising First Amendment protected activity.
Hentoff then tells the officer that he is an attorney. Upon that, the officer immediately walked away from Hentoff and proceeded to do his job helping the dazed and confused passenger.
Other officers arrived on the scene walking right by Hentoff recording, saying nothing to him. Perhaps those officers’ were better trained on the First Amendment.
Earlier this year, Higginbotham v. City of New York was the latest court case to affirm that video recording police is protected by the First Amendment. And Hentoff mentions other cases as well in his YouTube description.
The First Amendment gives anyone the right to record the police in public, hence freedom of the press. The First Amendment is not just limited to filming police either, you have the right to film whatever you want in public, despite whatever opposition you may face while doing so.
In fact, a bus terminal worker appeared to be disgruntled that Hentoff was recording, and as a result asked him to step back several times, even though Hentoff did not have to step back.