1st Amendment OK’s recording coppers — Suggestions for staying alive!

Recordings of police officers, whether by witnesses to an incident with officers, individuals who are themselves interacting with officers, or by members of the press, are an invaluable tool in the fight for police accountability. Often, it’s the video alone that leads to disciplinary action, firing, or prosecution of an officer.

This blog post provides some practical tips to record the police legally and safely, and explains some of the legal nuances of recording the police.

What to Know When Recording the Police

* You have the right to record police officers exercising their official duties in public.
* Stay calm and courteous.
* Do not interfere with police officers. If you are a bystander, stand at a safe distance from the scene that you are recording.
* You may take photos or record video and/or audio.
* Police officers cannot order you to move because you are recording, but they may order you to move for public safety reasons even if you are recording.
* Police officers may not search your cell phone or other device without a warrant based on probable cause from a judge, even if you are under arrest. Thus, you may refuse a request from an officer to review or delete what you recorded. You also may refuse to unlock your phone or provide your passcode.
* Despite reasonably exercising your First Amendment rights, police may illegally retaliate against you in a number of ways including with arrest, destruction of your device, and bodily harm. We urge you to remain alert and mindful about this possibility.

Don’t expect cops to obey the law or even know or understand the law. That’s a sad thing to have to say; but, it’s the truth. Staying alive … living to fight another day … gets a lot more done than a photo of your body on the front page of a newspaper.

Hillary offers her public stance on marriage equality

Overdue? You betcha. American politicians always make very political decisions.

I can tell you from personal experience that Hillary has supported equal civil rights for all Americans through all of her adult career in law – and in politics. But, the latter quality was lived as a Democratic politician – earlier times were only bounded by her views on constitutional law.

Now that it seems likely she’ll be campaigning for the presidency in 2016, it’s central to that task that she rely on the progressive wing of the Democrat Party – and progressives and independents outside that party. Just as did Barack Obama. Would she be as conservative a president as Obama? On foreign policy – probably yes. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for a major swing of the mainstream of Democrats into serious work for peace. On domestic policy – probably no. I think she understands the needs of working folks, is less divorced from the roots of American labor than Obama or the hierarchy of the Democrat power structure.

These are trends that differentiate Democratic politicians from Republicans. They ain’t earthshaking differences; but, especially on questions of equal opportunity and civil rights – they make all the difference in the world.