The Arizona Senate is poised to pass a bill that will outlaw citizens from taking videos of police, even on their own private property.
“It is unlawful for a person to knowingly make a video recording of law enforcement activity,” SB 1054 reads, “if the person making the video recording does not have the permission of a law enforcement officer and is within twenty feet of where the law enforcement activity is occurring.”
The bill also states that an individual may not record police on their private property or in their homes unless they are twenty feet away from police or “from an adjacent room.” If a police officer determines the individual is “interfering in the law enforcement activity or that it is not safe to be in the area,” the officer may order “the person to step recording or to leave the area.”
Police routinely oppose citizens recording their activity and the proposed legislation will provide them with a legal loophole to shut down all video recording as interference in law enforcement activity.
The Arizona law is a response to numerous videos that have shown police abuse. In a few instances, individual police officers have faced prosecution for violating the rights of citizens as a result of video recordings. The government has a keen interest in preventing this sort of evidence and maintaining its exclusive monopoly of violence without challenge from citizens.
The legislation represents another encroachment on private property by the state. If police can tell you what to do on your own property, you no longer have property rights.
“If government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you’re no longer the owner of your property. If school officials can punish your children for what they do or say while at home or in your care, your children are not your own—they are the property of the state,” writes John W. Whitehead.
“This is what a world without the Fourth Amendment looks like, where the lines between private and public property have been so blurred that private property is reduced to little more than something the government can use to control, manipulate and harass you to suit its own purposes, and you the homeowner and citizen have been reduced to little more than a tenant or serf in bondage to an inflexible landlord.”