For over a week, people in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota have been protesting after a white police officer shot a Black man dead. And what started as a peaceful protest turned into havoc on Friday. On the sixth night of the protest, police officers reportedly targeted photojournalists and other members of the press. They forced them to lie on the ground, photographed their faces and press credentials, and some of them were reportedly even detained.
We’ve definitely heard of more than one case when police officers confused cameras and tripods for guns. A San Diego photographer almost got shot by a Community College District police officer because of his GoPro. The officer held the photographer at a gunpoint when he refused to put the camera down, claiming that he didn’t know what a GoPro was.
A few days ago, NYPD Chief Phillip Banks issued a memo reminding police officers that people have the right to fill them while they’re on duty, and that they can’t interfere and try to stop it from happening. It took only three days since then, unfortunately, for that memo to be forgotten.
Yesterday, an previously New York Mayor candidate named Randy Credico was arrested and jailed for recording the aggressive arrest of a man by officers in street clothes. While on his way to a campaign interview, Credico saw the two officers taking control of the man at the Van Cortland Park subway station, located in the Bronx.
It’s common these days to find videos of people filming confrontations with policemen. With a smartphone in everyone’s hands, it’s easier than ever to be able to capture incriminating evidence. Given how many controversies have come up in recent years regarding abusive police action caught on video, officers have to be careful with how they deal with citizens recording them.
This video captures resident Steve Wronko attempting to investigate the Helmetta Animal Shelter, when he’s approached by New Jersey police officer Richard Recine. Normally, the entire thing would have been another situation of a man trying to be smart with a police officer who’s trying to do his job (the internet just loves a guy who steps up to authority), and then act threatened when they pat his back towards the exit.
This isn’t the kind of crime you’ll find in The Wire, but it’s pretty big for the photography community. The City of Baltimore has just agreed to pay a fine of $250,000 in a settlement over the “unlawful seizure and destruction” of videos from a citizen’s cell phone. The videos contained footage of Baltimore Police allegedly arresting and beating another person.