Videotape Police Abuse, Go to Jail?
George Donnelly may be wondering what country he is in right now.
Recently, he and other activists trying to hand out pamphlets published by the Fully Informed Jury Association were confronted by U.S. marshals in Manhattan. Attempting to record the encounter, Donnelly found himself being pushed to the pavement by the marshals. Then arrested. He is accused of “assaulting a federal marshal.” Another FIJA activist on the scene, Julian Heicklin, was also arrested.
In another recent case, documented by Reason magazine’s Radley Balko, a Maryland motorcyclist was arrested for videotaping an encounter during which a state trooper pulled a gun. Andy Gruber thought this out of bounds. So he posted the video, which he had captured with a camera tucked in his helmet, on the Internet. This resulted in a raid and arrest, and the possibility of imprisonment. Maryland police officers claim that it’s “illegal” to record anybody’s voice — ever — in Maryland, a willful misinterpretation of the state’s wiretapping laws.
Miscarriages of justice have often been rectified only when video comes to light exposing falsehoods in the official story. As inconvenient as it is for law enforcers to be held accountable for how they do their jobs, the alternative of letting them make up the rules as they go along and hide or destroy evidence of their conduct is grotesquely unreasonable and dangerous, and should be itself punishable by law.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.