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Photograph the Police, Get Arrested 902

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-you-know-what-rights-you-don't-have dept.
Servo writes "Last month a man was arrested in New Hampshire after presenting evidence of a police officer being verbally abusive that he had captured on his home security camera system. Now just recently in Philadelphia a 21 year old student was arrested on his property after he took a photo of the police who were in the process of arresting a drug dealer down the street." From the article: "Cruz said that when he heard a commotion, he walked out of his back door with his cell phone to see what was happening. He said that when he saw the street lined with police cars, he decided to take a picture of the scene. 'I opened (the phone) and took a shot,' Cruz said. Moments later, Cruz said he got the shock of his life when an officer came to his back yard gate."
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Photograph the Police, Get Arrested

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  • welcome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:24AM (#15810015) Homepage
    He said that when he saw the street lined with police cars, he decided to take a picture of the scene. 'I opened (the phone) and took a shot,' Cruz said. Moments later, Cruz said he got the shock of his life when an officer came to his back yard gate.

    You must be new here.

    Welcome to America. Remember to leave your civil liberties at the door, thanks.
    • Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:37AM (#15810058) Homepage
      In 1976 for the first time, Americans spent more on private security firms than on police forced.

      I've photographed cops here in Canada arresting people a couple of times. They don't care.

      • Re:Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RajivSLK (398494) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @06:18AM (#15810441)
        I have mod points but I'd rather post.

        It's not so rosey up here in Canada. This past Canada Day the Victoria police instituted a policy of manditory searches on all buses heading downtown. They can get away with this because, on Canada Day, the bus is used mostly by young people going to clubs. I objected to being searched thinking that I would simply not be allowed back on the bus. Instead, to my complete surprise, the officer began to become very verbally abusive and I was arrested for "Drunk and Disorderly Conduct".

        No breathalizer, no soberiety test, nothing. 100% soley based upon the officers "observation". I was processed and thrown into a dirty cement holding cell that lacked even toilet paper let alone a bed. As it stands the Victoria police can arest anyone at anytime under the charge of "Drunk and Disorderly" with no evidence and no soberiety test.

        I can't wait for the day when *I* can video tape everything. That should provide a little balance to things.
        • Re:Bah (Score:4, Insightful)

          by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @08:09AM (#15810705) Homepage
          That's why you fight it in court. It would be very easy to win such a case if the arresting officer has no evidence.
          • Re:Bah (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ArsonSmith (13997)
            Yea because that would make it all better. Winning in court doesn't make the experience of sitting in a shitty cell for 24+ hours. It doesn't give you back the night of good times you were "planning" on having. It doesn't give you back the job you lost because you were in jail. It doesn't give you back the respect you lost because you were taken to jail, but hey, you "won" in court.
    • Its not just the US (Score:5, Informative)

      by Instine (963303) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:20AM (#15810169)
      I'm in the UK, and I've seen this and worse happen for years. At an anti capitalist demo (I'm not a loony, but I do think some of the issues raised at those demos need to be raised - like subsidising the third world out of the world markets etc... but lets not go off topic)I've been charged at by police on horses FOR NO REASON AT ALL!.

      And yes I've seen cameras blocked, and their owners arrested. I've seen the unlawful detainment of hundreds of demonstrators (I would have been one of them, if I hadn't been light on my feet, and had a friend to help me over a piked fence. Ironically the fence of the Royal Courts of Justice I believe).

      So its not news, that there's a problem. But whats the solution?
      I propose that a form of open source decentralised government evolve that slowly but surely makes the centralized government more and more obsolete. Leaching the power from centralised government will force them to be more democratic, and less hyopocrytical. I hope.

      Of course "what about the money"?!?!

      Well - taxes can be legaly sidestepped. Previously it was only the rich who could afford off shaw accounts etc... With this shiny new interweb of ours, we can build open source solutions to tax, for the masses!

      So - imagine a karma system generating elected, regional education 'node leaders', for home and comunity eductator to amasses comparible resources as those in state schools. Now health, security, transport, energy,....

      Yes this might sound wacky, but there's nothing stopping us trying. And I'm sick of the winging in here. YES your government is crap! Do something!
  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:25AM (#15810020)
    The attitude should surely be, "if you ain't got nothing to hide..." ; it's what they are increasingly coming to expect from the rest of us.

    While I can understand that police are probably lairy of being photographed, because it's probably so easy to make mistakes in police procedure that if you were to record their activities, a good lawyer could probably shoot down a large percentage of arrests and whatnot... it does not inspire confidence that a public organisation who allegedly operate inside the law, to uphold the law, should feel it necessary to use their power to conceal the detailed workings of their activities.

    Anyone able to point a finger at the legislation that enables them to do this? Or is there none, and they are just overstepping the mark?
    • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:28AM (#15810025) Homepage
      The attitude should surely be, "if you ain't got nothing to hide..." ; it's what they are increasingly coming to expect from the rest of us.

      If I don't have anything to hide, why do they need to watch me?
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:31AM (#15810039)
      They were overstepping their bounds, citing bullshit (nonexistent) laws and violating 4rth amendment rights:

      From TFA:
      Cruz said police told him that he broke a new law that prohibits people from taking pictures of police with cell phones.

      "They threatened to charge me with conspiracy, impeding an investigation, obstruction of a investigation. ... They said, 'You were impeding this investigation.' (I asked,) "By doing what?' (The officer said,) 'By taking a picture of the police officers with a camera phone,'" Cruz said.


    • by Archtech (159117) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:50AM (#15810254)
      As a general rule of thumb, it's usually safe to assume that anyone can be deemed to be breaking some law or other at any given moment. That, of course, is in itself an appalling state of affairs - it is the antithesis of democracy governed by law, as it gives the authorities carte blanche to arrest and punish whomever they wish.

      "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged".
      - Cardinal Richelieu

      'There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with'.
      - Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged"

      • by bhmit1 (2270) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @08:43AM (#15810795) Homepage
        I wish I could find the original quote, but it went along the lines of:

        When the laws become so complex that people cannot understand them, the people are no longer free.

        The trend is getting more disturbing these days. I grew up with the believe that police were there to protect and serve. I'm not quite sure who they are protecting now. The sad truth is that if police weren't harming the innocent, there wouldn't be so many loopholes that the guilty can use to get off the hook.

        And something else to ponder, if a law against cell phone pictures of police were passed yesterday, would you know (assuming the media didn't pick up on it)? Are we really free when the people making the rules have no responsibility to inform the public of those new rules. Yes, I'm aware that they are made available for the public to view, but the lawmakers are well aware that the public doesn't have the time, nor the ability to comprehend, everything that is made into law. So we are left with a world where getting arrested is based on whether the police like you, and how much money you have to pay the lawyers. The same thing applies to paying your taxes.
    • by Archtech (159117) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:51AM (#15810261)
      "...it's probably so easy to make mistakes in police procedure that if you were to record their activities, a good lawyer could probably shoot down a large percentage of arrests..."

      In that case, the procedure is obviously far too complicated and should be drastically simplified. If something doesn't work, you fix it; you shouldn't go on using it unchanged and try to cover up the deficiencies.
    • Anyone able to point a finger at the legislation that enables them to do this? Or is there none, and they are just overstepping the mark?

      There is none. However, the government won't prosecute police for criminal actions unless there is political pressure to do so. In the US there is currently no pressure for 'abuse of powers' issues, although there sometimes is for more conventional crimes (murder, assault, etc). People may not like Bush, but they're quite happy with their police state. And it's notoriously

    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @08:58AM (#15810848) Homepage
      it does not inspire confidence that a public organisation who allegedly operate inside the law, to uphold the law, should feel it necessary to use their power to conceal the detailed workings of their activities.

      Well said, and may I expand:

      If the judicial system works so poorly that photographs of the executive branch during the public execution of their duty are dangerous, what does that say of the same judicial system when faced with a suspect who cannot provide sufficient proof of his innocence? If the judicial system is making so many mistakes that the police do not trust it, how can we?

      Anyone able to point a finger at the legislation that enables them to do this? Or is there none, and they are just overstepping the mark?

      I believe it is a part of the NEAC-SEFA Act - Nine Eleven And Children's-Safety Executive Free Action Act. It states that the executive can do anything, without oversight, if they are protecting children or fighting terrorists. It was written by the NSA, approved by two senators and Dick Cheney, and signed into law by GWB. Of course, the law must remain secret, because making it public would lend aid and comfort to the terrorists, who hate our freedom, and help child molestors escape justice.

      So the question is not whether NEAC-SEFA is a good law - it is a necessary and vital law enforcement tool. The question is, do you support child molestors and terrorists, or do you support NEAC-SEFA?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:28AM (#15810026)
    I'm not suprised at all. The USA has under the Bush Administration has become a police state. If the people get a back bone he waves the terrorist flag and everyone ducks for cover.
    Its really sad all in all.
    • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @06:05AM (#15810415) Homepage
      I don't know why anyone would mod the parent as flamebait. Think about it for a moment. During any time in U.S. history can you think of any other president about which such comments have been raised? We want to blame the guy in charge for the stte of affairs, but in this case, many of the changes we've seen have been directly related to the over-reaction to terrorist threat... cues taken from Bush himself. But there's more to it than that I think. But it certainly seems to have started at the top.
      • by CommandNotFound (571326) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @07:27AM (#15810595)
        Think about it for a moment. During any time in U.S. history can you think of any other president about which such comments have been raised?

        Yes, on multiple occassions, during wars, the Great Depression, during the civil rights movements, etc. I'm not saying Bush hasn't made mistakes, but remember that we as people (I'm included) are pretty narrow-scoped in our knowledge of history, and we forget the details of history all too quickly, or we are never taught the details. By details, I mean the day-to-day outlook, not the two line summary in the history book 100 years later.

        Switching topics but not the principle, take Iraq as an example: many think 3 years is too long to stabilize a country. Go search the NY Times archives from 1945 until about 1947 with the key words "Japan" and "violence" or "unrest". You can only see the headlines and a small bit of text unless you pay for them, but it should be enought text to get the meaning. Article after artcle questions the stabilization of post-war Japan, when will it ever end, what about Korea now, etc, etc. Iraq is taking much longer, but fifty years from now none of the difficulties will be remembered, assuming the effort is successful. It's scary to think about how much history is forgotten.
        • Iraq is taking much longer, but fifty years from now none of the difficulties will be remembered, assuming the effort is successful.

          That is quite an assumption.

          You were using the example of Japan before. Let's stick with that. Japan is largely homogenous. There are some different people groups (the name for the people group escapes me, but there was one distinct people group on one of the islands, largely overridden in the pre-WWII period). Iraq has three distinct people groups (kurds, Shiites and Sunnis) w
        • by AusIV (950840) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @09:42AM (#15811045)
          I completely agree. People far to often forget history.

          To answer the grandparent's question, yes. The first time I can think of that a president rallied support by making exaggerated or false accusations was the civil war. During the depression, fiscal conservatives who opposed government support of the poor and elderly were characterized as inhumane. Today we're still dealing with the consequences of not taking their thoughts into consideration. During the cold war, Senator Joseph McCarthy called anyone who challenged him a communist, devistating the reputations of many innocent people.

          These aren't necessarily all the president's actions, but they certainly demonstarte that power has been abused by dishonest accusations.

          More on the parent's subject of people forgetting history: I think people have forgotten how significant the recovery process is. After the Civil War, Lincoln was assassinated and the south was left in shambles because the recovery plan was tossed aside. To this day, parts of the south have not recoverred. After the first world war, Germany was punished and fined for the war. This caused them to look for a leader that would help them recover. They found Adolph Hitler. After the second world war we realized our mistake, but recovery was a shakey process. Germany was broken up, half to be helped by the Soviet Union, the other half by the United States and Great Brittain. Germany was a site of conflict for the Cold War, and wasn't reunited until 1990. Japan is the only example I can think of that shows a successful rehabilitation after a war, and that took a long time. Vietnam and the Koreas also struggled after their wars.

          My point is, rehabilitation is the most important and costly part of any war. I don't think the current administration thought about that as long as they should have before starting a war, but I certainly think the consequences of leaving Iraq prematurely could be devistating.

    • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @08:44AM (#15810802)
      I firmly believe that the terrorists won with their 9/11 attack.

      One attack, a few thousand people killed, and your country's civil rights are now being violated like never before "for the sake of security", and your constitution isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

      If anyone thinks that America has won the "war on terror", just think about what's been lost in the process...

      Any bets on the timing of the _next_ American Civil War?
      • by Valdrax (32670) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @09:38AM (#15811021)
        I firmly believe that the terrorists won with their 9/11 attack.

        One attack, a few thousand people killed, and your country's civil rights are now being violated like never before "for the sake of security", and your constitution isn't worth the paper it's printed on.


        That's a common trope meant originally to shock people into think about what they're giving up for security, but to be honest, the terrorists couldn't give a damn about our civil rights at all. What the terrorists want is for the US to pull out of the Middle East, leave Israel to fend for itself, leave the Middle Eastern regimes that are not theocracies (like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) to fend for themselves against Islamist movements at home, and to reestablish the Caliphate.

        If the US were to become a 1984-style eternal dictatorship where the very humanity was crushed out of our souls, the terrorist wouldn't care at all so long as we weren't in the Middle East anymore. The fact that our slide towards militaristic authoritarianism is being bolstered by fear of Muslims and desire to kick over more of their territory actually represents a significant loss for their agenda of getting us out of the Middle East.

        We're not winning the "War on Terrorism," but neither are they. We're losing civil rights and world prestige, they're losing lives in droves and seeing us become more entrenched in their backyards. This conflict is many, many decades from being resolved, but right now it's a lose-lose battle.
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:31AM (#15810040) Homepage Journal
    You are just 70 years behind Europe. What took you so long?

    (Moderators: this is called black humor [wikipedia.org]).
  • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:34AM (#15810047) Homepage
    Police told Hairston that they did take Cruz into to custody, but they said Cruz was not on his property when they arrested him.

    OK. I'm more inclined to believe the cops... wait a second...

    A neighbor said she witnessed the incident and could not believe what she saw.

    "He opened up the gate and Neffy was coming down and he went up to Neffy, pulled him down...

    Oh, you dumb, dumb cops. Of course Neftaly Cruz was "not on his property" during the arrest if you went onto his property and dragged him off! Why would you do that in front of witnesses?

    -Tony

    • Aren't you forgetting something?

      What difference does it make if he was on his own property or not?

      Taking a picture from your lawn or from the sidewalk next to your lawn is just as legal.

      So big deal if he was not on his own property when arrested. He still should not have been arrested.
    • Routine (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hotsauce (514237) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @10:52AM (#15811422)
      Believe it or not, this tactic is routine among police. I have seen police shout at anti-war protesters who were on the sidewalk to get on the sidewalk, then drag them off the sidewalk, and then charge them for disobeying a lawful police order.

      I've also seen police box protesters in, order them to disperse, and since they can't, arrest them for failure to disperse.

      I've seen these tactics many times. Sadly, they mostly get the charges to stick, and these guys get criminal records (probably the punishment the cops are trying to inflict).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:35AM (#15810048)
    The 99% messes it up for the 1% that are good cops.
  • by jeffsenter (95083) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:44AM (#15810083) Homepage
    I am not a lawyer. If the facts of this incident are as described in the story this is an easy civil suit for wrongful arrest. A law that outlawed taking pictures of police activity in public would be unconstitutional (1st Amendment) in any case and doesn't exist. The right to observe police activity in public is well established. Another poster mentioned that the police might have a right to privacy in making an arrest in public. Wrong. One cannot have a right to privacy in public doing a public activity. There is no possible expectation of privacy there. This isn't to say that police all over the country don't pull this kind of shit all the time-arresting or attacking people for videotaping or taking pictures of public police activity. Usually it isn't quite this blatant though.
    • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:12AM (#15810158) Homepage Journal
      I was at a political protest and happened to observe a cop give a peaceful (but somewhat annoying) person the finger. I laughed and whipped out my video camera and said to the cop semi-seriously "hey do that again, let me get that on video!"

      The cop grabbed my shirt and pulled me toward him and growled in my face "you want to get arrested?!?!"

      I laughed again and said "for what?"I lucky in that there were plenty of people around and also that a managing officer pulled the cop away and told him to cool off... but if I had been arrested it wouldn't have been the first time I was arrested on false premises.

      Not all cops are dishonest - but it only takes one to mess up your day, and generally the otherwise honest cops will look the other way when it happens - they have to stick together.

  • To sum it up... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Parallax Blue (836836) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:47AM (#15810090)
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? [Who will police the police?]
    - Latin proverb
  • Rodney King? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krunk4ever (856261) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:49AM (#15810096) Homepage
    If this was indeed a law, then incidents like the Rodney King incident would never be able to surface.

    Police also denied that they told Cruze he was breaking the law with his cell phone.

    So did I miss it or did the police never say 'why' Cruz was arrested?
  • by NoName Studios (917186) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:04AM (#15810131) Homepage
    There is a great document put together by a lawyer called Photographers' Rights. http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm [krages.com]

    Basically, it is 100% legal to photograph any emergency personal in the line of duty as long as you are not interferring with their work. As well, no one can confiscate your film or digital media. However, both of that is null and void if you do get in the way of emergency personel. If you are on private property, such as a shopping mall, they can ask you not to take photos, but you can't be penalized for it unless you continue against their will.
  • by PsychosisC (620748) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:06AM (#15810137)
    I understand you've probably seen this before, but if you haven't, this is pretty important. BUSTED - The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters [youtube.com] I've only had two encounters with police officers... but both of them sort of leave me thinking less of them.

    I was lost while looking for where to pick up my nephew from his babysitter, so I pulled over and walked up to a house and asked for directions. My car was a pretty old car, in a reasonably nice neighborhood. When I came back to my car, a person was walking around it, looking in each of the windows. I asked him why, he said, "I'm a cop, I'm supposed to".

    Around two in the morning, I had to go home from campus (Lan Party =)). A police officer pulled me over on the way out. Her stated reason, "It's suspicious for someone to be getting their car out of the parking lot this late at night." The traditional image of police is protectors, but to be honest, they are just paid to arrest people. There is a very big difference. A highly visible police patrolling the ghetto does us more good than a traffic trap. One actually lowers crime, the other gets arrests.

    • Why did a cop taking a perfectly legal look at your car give you a lower opinion of them? Your car represented an anomaly, by your own admission it didn't fit the neighborhood. That's exactly the sort of situation that I want cops to take a quick surface look; if it's nothing (as in your case) they'll move on. But sometimes it is something worth investigating: a car full of toilet paper might indicate an imminant TPing of someone's hour. Piles of small valuables might mean he stumbled across a burglary.
  • by heretic108 (454817) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:07AM (#15810142)
    Police are fighting terrorism and crime, so therefore are above any kind of accountability?

    No way!

    Next, we could see the US military operating secret overseas prisons! [washingtonpost.com]

    I wish the Cruz family the best of success with their legal actions against the police. This will be an interesting test of the US Constitution and judiciary.

  • by pen (7191) * on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:16AM (#15810163)
    Here is a handy pamphlet called The Photographer's Right [krages.com] that provides some advice for dealing with a situation like this.
  • by leereyno (32197) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:42AM (#15810231) Homepage Journal
    Some criminals wear badges, which is why police departments have an internal affairs divsion, to find and remove bad cops from the force. These sound like cases for IAD to me, big time.

    Now maybe its just me, but there does seem to be an increase in cases of police officers getting confused and thinking they work for the gestapo. There was a case a month back or so where the daughter of a police officer was arrested for "trespassing." She and a friend were lost and had stopped to ask a police officer for directions. The officer refused to help them, stating that they would have to find their own way out. A few moments later they spotted another officer and drove over to where he was to ask for help, at which point the first officer rushed over and berated them for daring to ask her partner for help when she had already told them to get lost. So they drove up the street a ways, pulled over, and began trying to find out where they were on a map while trying to call the girl's father on a cell phone. A few minutes later these same officers arrested them for "trespassing" ..... on a public street. The girl and her friend spent the night in jail. They weren't charged of course because they hadn't committed any crime.

    I don't know how this case turned out for the officers involved, but it shows a serious lack of oversight when two cops are able to run wild and abuse the public in that manner.

    Now I know for a fact that most cops are decent men and women who treat citizens with all due respect, despite having to be human-garbagemen and spend much of their time doing what I call "white trash patrol." Just watch a few episodes of Cops and you'll know what I mean. But even so there are a few who are bad apples, and unless they're culled from the force then you end up with situations like these, or worse.

    The last thing any police department should be interested in doing is making themselves the enemy of the public. The police depend upon public goodwill to do their job, and to come home alive at the end of their shift. If the police do not have the trust of the public, then they will not have the cooperation of the public. This is already the case in urban slums where calls of "five-O!" cry out day and night warning the residents that a police car or officer is in the area. When the police become a nuisance equal to that of the criminals they are supposed to be pursuing, then the public will treat them with equal disdain.

    In most parts of the world, being a police officer is met with about the same level of respect as a personal injury lawyer would be here, if not less. The police are held in contempt because in most parts of the world, particularly the 3rd world, corruption and abuse are almost part of the job. Police officers in the US are, at least among healthy segments of society, viewed with respect if not admiration. But this esteem is fragile because at the end of the day the police are armed agents of the state and that makes them difficult to love. So when officers abuse and betray the trust of the public and make false arrests, all it does is make life that much more difficult for them and and their fellow officers. Things like these are noticed, and remembered.
  • by one_red_eye (962010) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:07AM (#15810299) Homepage
    "He said he was taking pictures with his cell phone and that was obstructing an investigation," said Aracelis Cruz, Neftaly Cruz's mother.

    Of course it's obstructing, because the officer had to leave the original scene to arrest some kid causing problems down the street.
  • How long... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by htnprm (176191) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:25AM (#15810336) Homepage
    How many stories do I need to read on Slashdot, Digg, Fark, Google News, Wikipedia about things like this before people start doing something about things like this?

    If all you're doing is sitting here on Slashdot bitching about it, shame on you. If it's so important, get off your arse and do something about it.
  • Hello? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tliet (167733) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:31AM (#15810347)
    This is what you get when the government keeps taking away liberties everyone takes for granted.

    Next time when you vote, please remember that it's not just 'the bad guys' when they mean terrorists.

    Since the term terrorist is used pretty wide and broadly, it may mean you next time you do something 'the authorities' inappropriate.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @05:44AM (#15810376) Journal
    First off, what is the proper procedure for arresting someone (physical process not legal), I always see on tv that people are grabbed, put against the police car, searched, cuffed, put in car, taken away. Not thrown in car, cuffed, taken away as claimed here.

    Second, what was Cruz doing before. I have seen to many incidents of small incidents escaltating because of bystanders getting involved. Once the riot has started the police is blamed for letting things go out of control but if the police orders the crowd to disperse then they are fascists. A no-win scenario for the police.

    This leads to the third question, does the (US) police have the right to tell people to go inside/disperse? I am not a lawyer but I think they do. If the public doesn't have to follow police instructions then things would quickly become impossible "STOP, or don't, whatever you feel like".

    Fourth is that journalists have a right to photograph and this is usually accepted with press-photographers only being hit by riot squads say every other riot. In general it seems the police is all to aware that trying to supress the press only leads to more attention. But how does this translate to every citizen having a camera? What if under-cover agents are present? SWAT teams and similar typically wear camoflage not just to hide but to protect their indentity. This is offcourse not possible for under-cover agents. Even drug dealers would notice a customer with a face mask. Does the police have the right to stop photographing in these circumstances?

    Fifth, where was cruz photographing, in his back yard or on the street. Furthermore if the police wanted to arrest him why shouldn't they have the right to come on to this yard. I smell rats when two sides seem to quote bogus laws. Imagine that it was true you could not be arrested on your own property. If photographing the police is illegal (I don't know) then surely it doesn't matter from where you do it?

    Sixth, was cruz really just an observer? Offcourse he is just an innocent angel harmless standing in his own garden just taking a shot of some police cars. You wouldn't expect his parents to admit that he is a flunky for the drugs mafia and trying to photograph undercover agents to warn other dealers? To often I read stories like this and then when you dig a little bit deeper you learn that much more was going on. It just sets of an alarm in my mind not to take everything this guy says at face value.

    No I don't blindly trust the police but so far we only got the neighbours of drug dealers confused and unlogical accounts of what went on. Just because your neighbours deal drugs don't mean you are a liar but when you can't keep your own accounts straight and claim non-existent law (the police has a right to arrest you no matter were you are) I don't trust you. Remember, we only got their word for it that he was just arrested for using a camera phone. It may be true, it may not be. Yet I find it typically of slashdot that very few question the account given. I too would like to use this as an example off out of control police powers BUT precisly because I want to believe this I have to skeptical. If a story confirms what you want to hear you must be extra doubtfull or risk falling in the yes-man trap.

    • I have a lot of problems with what you just said.

      If the police are arbitrarily allowed to dictate where i'm allowed to peacefully assemble then the US constitution means absolutely jack squat.

      from fourth:.. what youre now going to dictate what makes a person a "journalist"?... I'll give you a clue, anyone with a camera, a pen, and access to a xerox machine is a journalist, otherwise you get a double standard that can be used by the power hungry to lock up publishers of "undesirable speech".

      from fifth: I hop
  • by BINC (239411) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @06:06AM (#15810417)
    What is the "new law" in Pennsylvania that criminalizes photographing police? Please cite it. This seems to be part of a national push. In Montana it extends beynd photography. I have recently been threatened with being charged with "Obstructing" for not yielding to a warrantless search of my property, so I looked it up. See http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/45/7/45-7-302.htm [mt.gov] especially paragraph (2). !! Our general defense in Montana is insisting on trial by jury--provided one represents himself; otherwise it invites rapid bankruptcy--but trial by jury is not guaranteed by all states' consitutions for all crimes.
  • by NevarMore (248971) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @06:10AM (#15810426) Homepage Journal
    I think the real crux of the conflict between the police and the populace is that they only really see each other when something bad happens.

    I only ever talk to police when I'm about to get in trouble (usually a speeding ticket). The police don't always see the greatest members of society. The see the drunks, the druggies, the traffic offenders, the murders, and so on. So we have two groups that only ever see each other in a negative manner.

    The story would be different if it were talking about Mr. Cruz were taking a photo of the policeman and his neighbor sharing a joke. Wishy washy I know, but would you rather talk to a cop when you're a suspect or would you like to wave hello to a friendly officer as he patrols your neigborhood?

    I think both sides need to realize that no every person who made a minor traffic infraction is carrying 10kg of hashish in the boot and that people understand that not every cop is some neo-Nazi violent psycho working for Big Brother then maybe the serious situations like this article won't happen or if they do, they get settled more respectably.
  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @10:57AM (#15811455)

    Except in special circumstances (e.g., certain government facilities), there are no laws prohibiting the taking of photographs on public or private property. If you can be there, you can take pictures there: streets, malls, parking lots, office buildings. You do not need permission to do so, even on private property.

    Trespassing laws naturally apply. If a property owner demands you leave, you must. But if a place is open to the public -- a mall, office-building lobby, etc. -- permission to enter is assumed (although it can be revoked).

    In terms of the law, trespass and photography are separate events; the former is illegal, but the latter is not. Only if the use of photographic equipment itself violates a person's privacy (e.g., by using a long lens to look into someone's private room) might it violate privacy law. Further, while people have a right of privacy, businesses do not except as it relates to trade secrets.

    Subject to specific limits, photographers can publish any photos they take, provided those photos do not violate the privacy of the subject. This includes photos taken while trespassing or otherwise being someplace they shouldn't be. Taking photos and publishing photos are two separate issues.

    Please read the full PDF here [nyud.net] with much more detail. I print copies of this on 4x5 index cards and keep them with me at all times when I'm taking photos in any public place.

    Also, if someone demands your "film" or your camera, let them know that it is not legal for them to take it, unless you have been arrested of a crime involving that camera and that film. The crime for someone to demand and take your camera or film, is called theft, and threatening to do so (or to "break your camera"), is called coercion. Don't tolerate either of them, and if your equipment IS taken or broken, call the police and file charges.

    Know your rights, and don't tolerate this supression.

  • Stealth camera (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @12:34PM (#15811973) Homepage
    I've been waiting for a mini-stealth-camera-and-recorder to appear. I want a little device, the size of a cellphone camera, that fits in a button or a necklace or a belt buckle or something equally inconspicuous. It should be connected to a waist controller, which would include battery pack, storage (hard drive or flash), and wifi. Wifi so that, whenever it can find an available internet connection, it can upload its contents to a secure server located elsewhere.

    Just imagine that. "Sorry sir, you took a picture of something you weren't supposed to. I'm going to have to confiscate your camera." "The pictures are already in Texas, and in ten minutes they'll be posted online. Same as the recording of what you're saying right now. You really want to illegally take my possessions, Officer Frank, Number 3894?"

    Obviously there would be privacy implications as well, but it's kind of inevitable that this will occur someday.

    ("Oh yeah, and there's six other people taping this right now. Don't bother looking for them. You won't find them. At least two of them are sending it outside the country.")
  • by GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:10PM (#15812856)
    It's perfectly legal for papparattzi to stalk and abuse any member of the public they want, because when you are in the public domain you have chosen to open yourself to surveillence. ... but when a public organization run on your tax dollars, operating in a public place has a picture taken, you go to jail.

    You have NO REASON AT ALL to complain. You brought it on yourself.

    - Americans chose to give up their constitutionally protected freedoms in the name of 'security' (as defined by your government). That choice happened when Americans allowed the Patriot Act to stand above the constitution.

    - Americans didn't overthrow their government as is their constitutional responsibility when their government destroys their constitutionally protected rights.

    You're just adjusting to the consequences of your actions. Deal with it.

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