May 19, 2013
Editor’s note: It should be noted that the cops were engaged in a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
New York City police officers arrested a woman who was video recording them from a public sidewalk as they conducted some type of “vehicle safety checkpoint.”
The officers apparently stole a memory card from a camera, which turned out to be the wrong one, allowing us to view the video.
In the Youtube description, under the headline, “You stole the wrong SD card,” Christina Gonzalez said her boyfriend was also arrested.
We were arrested while filming an NYPD checkpoint on a bridge between a soon to be gentrified Bronx and a quickly gentrifying Harlem. We were charged with OGA, DisCon, and resisting arrest. I was holding a bag of yarn in one hand and a canvas in the other. My partner had food in his hands when he was tackled. Even though their violent actions were unjust, we did not resist. Simultaneous with our “arrests”, the checkpoint was closed down.
We were held for 25 hours.
OGA is obstructing government administration, which generally requires the person to physically obstruct police from doing their job.
According to a New York attorney:
Generally, If you impair or obstruct the administration of law or prevent a public servant (often a police officer) from performing his or her official duty and function, then you have committed this crime. However, the other crucial element is that this intentional obstruction be done through intimidation, interference, physical force or an independently unlawful act.
But Gonzalez didn’t appear to be doing any of the above. She was peppering the cops with questions as to what they were doing and one sergeant tried to answer a question before telling her he wasn’t going to answer more questions.
She kept peppering him with questions, which prompted him to order her to move away.
When she refused, he demanded identification, which she also refused to provide.
That led to her arrest.
I sent her a message asking her to clarify about the memory card. Will update when she responds.
UPDATE: Mickey Osterreicher just emailed the following:
See the following from the NYPD Patrol Guide under PG 208-03 Arrests – General Processing, effective 01-01-2000 that came as a result of a 1977 Consent Decree between NYPD and the NYCLU. In pertinent part that section reads as follows:
OBSERVERS AT THE SCENE OF POLICE INCIDENTS
As a rule, when a police officer stops, detains or arrests a person in a public area, persons who happen to be in or are attached to the area are naturally in position to and are allowed to observe the police officer’s actions. This right to observe is, of course, limited by reasons of safety to all concerned and as long as there is no substantive violation of law. The following guidelines should be utilized by police officers whenever the above situation exists:
a. A person remaining in the vicinity of a stop or arrest shall not be subject to arrest for Obstructing Governmental Administration (Penal Law, Section 195.05) unless the officer has probable cause to believe the person or persons are obstructing governmental administration.
b. None of the following constitutes probable cause for arrest or detention of an onlooker unless the safety of officers or other persons is directly endangered or the officer reasonably believes they are endangered or the law is otherwise violated:
(1) Speech alone, even though crude and vulgar
(2) Requesting and making notes of shield numbers or names of officers
(3) Taking photographs, videotapes or tape recordings
(4) Remaining in the vicinity of the stop or arrest.
c. Whenever an onlooker is arrested or taken into custody, the arresting officer shall request the patrol supervisor to the scene, or if unavailable, report the action to the supervisor where the person is taken.
This procedure is not intended in any manner to limit the authority of the police to establish police lines, e.g., crowd control at scenes of fires, demonstrations, etc.