Arizona state passes law which bans filming of police

Jul 13, 2022

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Arizona state passes law which bans filming of police

Jul 13, 2022

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Arizona state legislature just passed a law which bans the filming of police at a close distance. Unauthorised filming of police within a distance of 8 feet could result in fines or jail time. Critics of the new Arizona law have called the ban a threat to free speech and freedom of the press.

Over the past few years the rise of mobile phone footage from witnesses and bystanders has become increasingly common. On some occasions this has helped expose unfair or unlawful treatment at the hands of police officers. The filming of one such incident of the death of George Floyd in 2020 sparked worldwide protests and support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

People who ignore a verbal warning and continue filming risk a misdemeanour charge and up to 30 days in jail. The law, however, makes exceptions for people interacting with police, or in enclosed area on private property. Additionally, if you’re the subject of a law enforcement encounter (including a vehicle stop), the bill allows you to film, provided that, again, it does not interfere with “lawful police actions.”

State representative John Kavanagh has argued it is necessary because “groups hostile to the police” sometimes “get dangerously close to potentially violent encounters”.

But the timing is interesting. This bill passed just one year after the US Department of Justice launched a far-reaching investigation into the Phoenix police department’s potential use of excessive force, according to NPR.

The National Press Photographers Association filed an official objection in February, along with an open letter signed by major media outlets and First Amendment Advocates, including BuzzFeed, The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

There is genuine concern for the freedom of speech and first amendement rights. “By limiting our ability to record police interactions, this law will undoubtedly make it even more difficult to hold police officers accountable for misconduct,” American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona staff attorney K.M. Bell told Insider.

This is not the first place to make filming or photographing police an offence. In Spain, the law has resulted in photojournalists receiving substantial fines, up to a year after the incident happened.

The Arizona law comes into effect on 24 September and will make it illegal to film police officers in the state within a distance of 8 feet.

[Via BBC News]

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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5 responses to “Arizona state passes law which bans filming of police”

  1. udi tirosh Avatar
    udi tirosh

    I wonder if by extension it means that all photography which is done more than eight feet away is now permitted

  2. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    just another example of a Gestapo state doing a “wag the dog” to hide the issue. Thank GOD for the George Floyd videos and even recently with LEOs to afraid to defend school children. when a LEO is doing their job, this is a no issue. Don’t forget videos also provide evidence when LEOs are justified in removing trash from the gene pool.
    On another hand, I would like to see more people helping a situation than just whipping out their phones to record it.

  3. Kaouthia Avatar
    Kaouthia

    I don’t think California decision makers have much say in Arizona.

  4. charles young Avatar
    charles young

    This law just gives the police who misbehave an excuse to claim you can’t photograph them since the majority of people won’t understand the distance limits of the law. The slow nibbling away of personal rights is what is behind the motivation for these type of laws. The US Supreme Court has affirmed the right of photographers to photograph anything viewable in the public realm. Many police really despise that and are working with local lawmakers to make fuzzy rules about interfering with police actions so they can go back to the days where they are not accountable for their actions. Interfering with police activities is already an offense so this “law” is totally unnecessary. Good to see media organizations pushing back.

  5. MegaNickels Avatar
    MegaNickels

    This isn’t going to get abused at all. /s