Officials concede it is First Amendment right to film federal property
Dec 12, 2012
When an Infowars photographer was ordered not to film a judicial building by a suited federal official, Alex Jones himself decided to take matters into his own hands and confront the feds to tell them that photography and filming is not a crime in America.
Magazine Graphic Artist Molly Rogers was photographing surveillance cameras at the Homer Thornberry Judicial Building in Austin Texas recently. Although she was standing on a public sidewalk, and not interfering in any way with the operations of the building, she was told that it was not legal to film federal property, and that she may be arrested if she did not leave.
As we have repeatedly highlighted, filming and photographing is protected under the First Amendment. There is no expectation of privacy, and filming federal property, federal employees, police or any public servants is not illegal in the United States. Not only did a First Court of Appeals ruling last year re-confirm this, but a recent Supreme Court decision also upheld the right to film.
Having encountered this before from the feds, Alex decided that enough was enough, and marched down to the building to confront them on their own turf.
After launching into an impromptu public tirade in front of the building, a security officer emerged only to tell Alex and his crew that he was absolutely aware that filming the building was a First Amendment right, even admitting that he was a listener of Alex’s radio show and a fan of Infowars!
The crew headed inside the federal building in an effort to locate the suited official who had threatened Molly Rogers with arrest.
After being initially told they were not allowed to film in the building, Alex explained the situation to the officials, and they admitted that the Infowars crew was within their rights to film the building and that the suited official had no right to threaten reporters with arrest for doing so.
The case highlights the fact that even though the law allows reporters to film and photograph in public, they are continually being harassed every day for doing so.
A man was recently arrested in California for recording police, sparking outrage as he was jailed four days.
A soldier in Georgia was arrested for filming police on the basis that he was ‘obstructing’ law enforcement activities (he was documenting while questioning police during a traffic stop).
Independent reporter and publisher of the Maui Time Weekly was arrested in Hawaii for ‘obstructing’ while filming police from a distance while they pulled over vehicles, reportedly for petty traffic violations.
Earlier in 2012, the founder of CopBlock.org was sentenced to some 3 months in jail for ‘wiretapping’ in New Hampshire. The organization seeks to hold police accountable by filming their actions.
These are just a smattering of cases.
The age of cell phone cameras and live streaming video has placed extra scrutiny on the behaviour of police and federal officials.
It is paramount that we stand up to such bullying and intimidation tactics, and exert our rights in such situations. Indeed, no more fitting than in these situations is the term “Use them or lose them”.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.