TSA, Don’t Strip Our Rights

January 28, 2012

TSA, Don’t Strip Our Rights
I got in touch with Kelly Voluntaryist, who did the bra-and-panties protest of the TSA and she sent me this video they put together:

Interesting that the guy tells them they can’t hand out pamphlets at the airport. Oh, that crazy little thing called the First Amendment.

And then there’s the notion that they can’t openly record a public official:

Another man was charged with wiretapping in New Hampshire for recording a traffic stop. As Mike Masnick posted on Techdirt:

Recording a police officer as he has stopped you is not and should never be considered a crime. The police in Weare New Hampshire should be ashamed of themselves for flagrantly abusing the law to intimidate people from exercising their own rights. All the more reason for laws like the one proposed in Connecticut that would punish police for preventing people from recording their interactions with the police in public.

Via Techdirt, as Radley Balko points out:

A right doesn’t mean much if there are no consequences for government officials who ignore it. Witness this case in Florida, where an officer erroneously tries to say federal law prohibits citizen recordings of cops. Even in states where courts have thrown out criminal charges, a cop who doesn’t want to be recorded can still harass, threaten, and even arrest you. You may not be charged. But he won’t be punished, either.

The law? Gary Rayno writes in the Union Leader:

CONCORD — Police in several communities in New Hampshire have arrested people videotaping police officers, but according to a ruling from the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, the arrests violate their First Amendment rights.

The ruling in the case of Simon Glik, a Boston attorney arrested for filming Boston police officers arresting a man on Boston Common, states: “Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting ‘the free discussion of governmental affairs.’”

And the court ruled “a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public place is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.”

In New Hampshire, citizens have been arrested for recording police officers performing their duties — including several publicized cases in Weare, Nashua, Manchester, Portsmouth and Keene.

For the past three legislative sessions, bills have been introduced to make it clear citizens have a right to record police officers performing their duties in public places, but to date none have become law.

Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, is the prime sponsor of House Bill 145, which is still in the Senate Judicial Committee after it passed the House this session. The Senate will act on the bill in January.

The Senate isn’t acting well — whomever is in this guy’s district should see he isn’t elected again. Again, from the Union Leader, from the editorial page on January 9, 2012:

In the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Sen. Fenton Groen, R-Rochester, introduced an amendment that mucks up this simple bill. It requires the recording to be in plain view and that the person doing the recording be on their own property, property they have permission to be on, or public property.

Those requirements are entirely unnecessary. They also present problems. What if a person hears a commotion, runs to the scene, and witnesses an interaction between a citizen and a police officer? In the heat of the moment, that person would have to make sure he is on public property or his own property, or any recording would be illegal.

This amendment should go. The House version was simpler and better.

Post on Fenton Groen’s Facebook page re-election page. I did. This comment:

How utterly scummy that you introduced an amendment to HB 145 (showing yourself to be ignorant of – and an enemy of — The First Amendment). As the Union Leader editorial page noted, your amendment “mucks up” this bill, calling for a person videotaping the police to be on their own property, property they have permission to be on, or public property. The Union Leader link is here.

I hope your constituents vote you out of office for being an enemy of the Constitution. -Amy Alkon

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