This is Getting Ugly!
Everyone has some some small device ready to shoot video at a moment’s notice. Whether it be a cell phone digital camera or even a web cam attached to a computer. Because of this, the average citizen is getting nervous and fidgety, privy to their rights on being recorded in any fashion.
We as video professionals know the law- but do they? Are they playing by the same rules? We know we have the right to videotape in public places. We know we have the right to videotape public figures in public places. Is there a grey area of exception when recording in public is not permissible?
The answer is yes. Especially when the rights of others are abused or neglected.
Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic Senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown’s Palace Hotel.
A police official later told lawyers for ABC News that the producer and crew are being charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order. He also said the arrest followed a signed complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel.
The crew was put in handcuffs and loaded in the back of a police van which headed for a nearby police station.
Many thoughts run through my head after reading this article. My guess is that they were being so disruptive and unprofessional they were cuffed. I’m not going to stand behind my colleagues on this one, instead I will say it serves them right- they got what they deserved. The photo shows an officer blocking the producer or camera person. If it got to that level, I’m assuming the officer was likely telling them to stop recording and to put the cameras down. They refused and it got ugly. A picture is worth a thousand words and that, in itself, tells me the camera crew was just being disruptive.
In my opinion, a police officer supersedes any of your rights at that given moment. It could be for everyone’s safety- even your own. For example, when an officer stands under a traffic light- that light is no longer functional. The officer now becomes the law and tells you whether or not you can go through a red light or stop at a green light. There could be an accident ahead or traffic needs to be maintained. Whatever the case, the officer becomes the law for a legitimate reason.
The same in this case.
The right thing to do is to put the camera down when being told to stop recording- especially if a police officer tells you. Just STOP and call it a day. There are appropriate ways to react if you feel your rights were violated.
What do you think? We’re going to discuss this on the next edition of The Law and Video Podcast happening LIVE on Tuesday September 2nd. Join us!