Five freelance photojournalists are suing the Department of Homeland Security for violating their First Amendment rights. The photojournalists claim that they were tracked, detained, and interrogated by Homeland Security while they were covering the issues along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2018 and 2019.
A District Court in California recently said that the act of threatening to arrest a person solely for recording police officers is a clear violation of the First Amendment.
The summary judgment was given in Barich v. City of Cotati, where a civilian who often records city officials claimed the chief of police violated his First Amendment rights by threatening to arrest him if he recorded the chief.
The court also said the police chief is not entitled to qualified immunity, which would shield him from liability for the violation of an individual’s federal constitutional rights, as it’s clear that the public has the right to record government officials in public places.
The bill proposing to ban recording police within 25-feet of them faced strong opposition from concerned citizens and civil right activists, and was said to be changed to 15-feet after its author received death threats.
What might be the bill’s death strike has now come from legal experts as well as the very same people the bill claims to be assisting.
Refusing to get out of the headlines, Jason Villalba is now spearheading another controversial bill.