Despite clear legal precedent, nationwide hoax that it is illegal to film cops prevails
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Cops arrested an Illinois man and tried to hit him with a 15-year jail sentence for “eavesdropping” after the man filmed his own traffic stop, in another example of how citizens are being intimidated out of documenting the actions of public servants despite every single case against Americans for recording police officers being thrown out of court.
“I’m just an ordinary citizen. I was on my way to the movies, and all of a sudden I’m facing a felony and 15 years in prison,” Frobe told ABC7.
Convinced that he had been stopped unfairly because he was not in a 35-mile-an-hour zone, Frobe used his flip camera to record the incident in Lindenhurst, before being arrested on “eavesdropping charges”.
Officer: “That recording? Frobe : “Yes, Yes, I’ve been… Officer: “Was it recording all of our conversation? Frobe: “Yes. Officer: “Guess what? You were eavesdropping on our conversation. I did not give you permission to do so. Step out of the vehicle.”
“I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. I was begging him, I said I didn’t know about this law. Would you please take the camera – this is no big deal – and smash it. You know I didn’t know about the law,” Frobe told ABC7.
“And they had audio and they had video on me, but I’m not allowed to do it to them. I’m in a private car on a public street and it’s a public official. Why shouldn’t I be able to record what’s going on to prove my innocence?” he said.
After spending a night in jail, Frobe was released the next day and all charges against him were dropped. However, Frobe has decided to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law, an effort the Attorney General’s office has dismissed, but legal precedent clearly indicates that Frobe will win the case.
The Illinois eavesdropping law has been proven unconstitutional time and time again, and yet police in the state and other states around the country with even less strict laws are still arresting citizens for filming police officers. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place – that’s why police are allowed to film citizens from dashboard cameras. However, citizens are still being told they have less rights than public servants.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
“It’s a public conversation about a public function. A traffic stop,” attorney Torri Hamilton said.
“He has no reasonable expectation that his conversation with Louis is private, and so therefore it shouldn’t be criminal to record it,” said Hamilton.
That stance has been backed up by court rulings over and over again, most recently in the case of Michael Allison, the 41-year old Illinois mechanic who faced life in jail for recording police officers. Despite aggressive efforts by the state to secure a prosecution, Circuit Court Judge David Frankland ruled that Allison’s First Amendment rights had been violated, that the eavesdropping law was unconstitutional, and dropped the case.
Frankland’s decision followed a First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which found that, “The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity].”
Indeed, every similar case nationwide has concluded in all charges being dropped against the defendant. It is not illegal to film police officers in public.
Despite these rulings, we seem to have entered some kind of twilight zone where legal precedent no longer has any meaning. This is the true measure of a predatory police state. Cops are still being trained by their superiors that recording police officers is a criminal offense.
It’s time to put an end to the hoax once and for all – it’s going to take a deluge of lawsuits like that being pursued by Louis Frobe to finally teach law enforcement bodies in America that citizens will not have their First Amendment rights trampled. Filming police officers is not a crime and cops who arrest Americans for doing so will be sued personally.
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show.