Bill Criminalizing Photographers Leads to Death Threats; Will Be Amended

Mar 21, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Bill Criminalizing Photographers Leads to Death Threats; Will Be Amended

Mar 21, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Texas

The backlash sparked by Bill 2918, which would make photographing police within 25 feet of them a misdemeanor, went far beyond the usual social media posts.

Jason Villalba said his family received significant death threats following the proposed bill, but that he remains adamant not to withdraw it. Instead he will “considerably rewrite it”.

“I will not consider pulling this bill”, said Villalba, “but what I will do is considerably rewrite it”.

Admitting the timing of the bill was “tone deaf” in light of the recent deaths of Eric Garner in New York City, where bystanders recorded the police’s excessive use of force from a short distance, and Mike Brown in Ferguson, Villalba said he simply moved forward with the idea proposed to him by police officers.

The amended bill will reduce the restricted area to 15 feet, instead of 25, but will no longer exclude ‘approved’ news media.

Villalba continued to defend his bill saying “give them a little room. We’re not saying don’t film. We’re not saying stop. We’re saying just step back a little bit”, but even within in own party there are people who disagree with it.

While the amended bill will be less restrictive, at least for civilians, it still seems redundant at best. As mentioned previously, there is already a statute in place which bans interfering with an officer on duty, so there’s no need to set an arbitrary restricted area which will most likely not be relevant in the majority of cases.

This bill might even make things worse if it will lead to people thinking they are within their rights to do as they please as long as they are further than 15 feet away from police, even if their actions interfere with police work.

[via WFAA | Lead Image: Texas State Library and Archives Commission]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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6 responses to “Bill Criminalizing Photographers Leads to Death Threats; Will Be Amended”

  1. Grady Richardson Avatar
    Grady Richardson

    This is a blatant violation of The First Amendment. The only possible purpose is to close up criminal acts committed by the police.

    1. Saleen219 Avatar
      Saleen219

      you’re an idiot. they are not saying NOT to film, just stay out of their way ffs. think you could do your job with a bunch of people milling around you while you try to do your thing? Its for your safety and to allow the police to do their job. dont you yanks have ANY common sense? smh.

      1. mike Avatar
        mike

        This bill is the definition of “chilling effects”. With this, an office could threaten anyone they want without repercussion. Simply walk towards the person filming an illegal arrest, and suddenly they are in the 25ft exclusion zone. Now they are free to confiscate the camera, arrest the photographer, and likely beat the hell out of them for their trouble.

        The entire idea behind this is to make people think twice about filming an officer.

  2. Eileen Conway Avatar
    Eileen Conway

    This is absurd!!! So if I get pulled over in my car and film and skydive officer with my dash cam I am then breaking the law?? That is insane.

  3. michael roberts Avatar
    michael roberts

    big brother,no different than Obama’s NSA spies

  4. Alexander DiMauro Avatar
    Alexander DiMauro

    This is ridiculous. I can already see it…’I have every right to film you’…’no you don’t, you were only 14 feet away!’. This arbitrary number is just a way to give them an excuse when they violate your rights.

    Notice also how it says: “Villalba said he simply moved forward with the idea proposed to him by police officers.”

    So, in other words, further proof that government officials don’t even think. They get sent proposals from businesses, police, whomever, and just push those laws (probably with a payoff involved), and they don’t even bother to look at it or raise any questions. Stick them with minimum wage, they don’t even deserve that much in pay.