Cops Caught Stealing Protestors' Cameras
NYPD refuses to return stolen property despite video documentation
Infowars.net | December 18, 2006
In the latest attack on the first amendment, a shocking video has emerged of the NYPD attacking a protestor and stealing his camera and footage at a demonstration demanding justice for an independent video journalist who was shot and killed earlier this year.
The filmmaker, Flux Rostrum , was filming the interaction between protestors and police outside the Mexican Consulate in late October at a demonstration protesting the murder of journalist Brad Will , who was shot and killed on October 27, 2006 during the teachers' strike in the Mexican city of Oaxaca. His murderers are believed to be local officials.
Flux was not arrested, nor did he receive a receipt for seized property. Without any warning, he was jumped by two police officers, one of whom is an NYPD captain, and knocked down onto the asphalt of 39th Street. A police officer then snatched the camera out of Flux's hands. As Flux attempted to protect himself and his equipment from being trampled and beaten, the cop with the camera conferred with another officer and scurried back into the building to hide the camera.
Video of the events quite clearly shows the cop saying "I want that camera" before Flux is jumped and attacked. View the video below.
When Flux attempted to get his camera back after the demonstration, he was threatened with arrest by a Lieutenant at the 17th Precinct. His lawyer was told that camera was found "abandoned" at the scene and that it had been turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney's office to be used as evidence against people arrested at the Mexican Consulate demonstration that day.
In an email message sent to me by Flux he states:
I would NOT have released the video below that details the incident from about 7 different camera angles if I thought others with a vested interest would not help spread the word.
I am seeking to get the camera and footage back.
I am seeking to punish them in any way possible in order to send the message that cops can no longer get away with smashing and stealing people's cameras.
Everyone who films in public needs to toss my case a little attention about now... it could make us all a little safer out there.
The PD are using a variety of stall tactics and so we've decided to go public with this video in order to pressure them into admitting guilt and righting their wrongs. ... But mostly so they think twice about doing this again. Camera smashing & stealing by the cops has become routine and this is a great opportunity to put a stop to it.
The actions taken by the police in this video are indicative of the attitude of authorities towards peaceful protest in America today. They seek to make the demonstration violent simply as an excuse to break it up, we see this over and over again.
Imagine what would happen to protestors if they reacted this way when police film them at demonstrations. Filming in public is a right every American citizen has under the first amendment, which is why the cops in this instance had to steal the camera and the footage, because there was no legal basis to seize it.
It seems that filming and photographing is now deemed to be a threat per se. Pick from any number of stories archived at www.freedomtophotograph.com for example.
In Seattle, police banned a photography student from a public park. He was taking photographs of a bridge for a homework assignment. The officers who ban him from the park do so without the knowledge of park officials and have no authority to do so.
In Texas a man was first threatened by neighbors and then reportedly accosted and sprayed with pepper spray by police. He was walking around his neighborhood, filming with his new video camera.
In New York, National Press Photographers Association members stage a protest in the New York subway system to bring attention to a proposed law to ban photography in the subway system.
In Philadelphia a magazine photographer was detained and questioned after a parade for taking architectural shots while waiting for a subway train.
In Harrisburg, PA a man was swarmed by 8 Police and accused of being a member of Al-Qaeda after shooting pictures of his new car under a bridge.
We have recently exposed how some police now do not understand that they are violating the rights of individuals. In other cases we have witnessed police pull out pocket constitutions from cars and question their legality.
Earlier this year journalist Greg Palast , whilst working for ABC, had charges brought against him by the Department of Homeland Security for videotaping the thousands of Katrina evacuees still held behind a barbed wire in a trailer park encampment a hundred miles from New Orleans.
The DHS deemed this to be unauthorized filming of "critical infrastructure". After exposure in the alternative media, the charges were dropped. One would also hope that exposure of Flux's case, in the context of other blatant attacks on freedom of speech and the right to assembly, will lead to a back down on the part of the NYPD.
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