Can Police Arrest You For Videotaping Them? Four Miami Friends Find Out the Hard Way

Categories: Crime
videocamera1.JPG
photo by Popperipopp via Wikimedia Commons

​When a Miami Beach officer started loudly berating Robert Hammonds and his friends in September 2009, the aspiring filmmaker did what came naturally: He pulled out his videocamera and filmed it. Hammonds had no idea that that simple act would cast him into the middle of one of the hottest fights in civil liberties laws today: Can police arrest you just for videotaping them?

In a dozen states like Florida that have laws requiring all parties to consent to an audio recording, some police say yes. In Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland, citizen journalists have been arrested and charged with "illegal wiretapping" for taping cops in public.

In South Florida, the ACLU recently filed a suit on behalf of a Boynton Beach mom who was booked on similar charges after filming police officers who'd detained her teenage son for "trespassing" at a movie theater.

Hammonds and his friends didn't know about all that legal infighting when they decided to start filming on South Beach a year and a half ago. But their basic belief that they have a right to film cops at work has landed them in a world of trouble: thousands in fines, nights in county lockup -- even their faces plastered on a warning poster sent to departments around town.

You can read about Hammonds story in depth in this week's New Times. In the meantime, check out the trailer for a documentary the friends are editing with the six hours of footage they've shot during their various encounters with local police. (And take a look at their Indigogo page for a full account of their project.)

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14 comments
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Schnitt
Schnitt

Complete abuse of power as always by the police.They must be stopped by any means, or we as citizens will be lead to slaughter by these corrupt animals.

Remember if ballots don't work bullets will. 6,000 Miami-Dade offices vs over 1 million citizensThey cannot win, im sorry we have more firepower

concerned citizen
concerned citizen

It is the duty of all citizens to monitor the police and public servants. The constitution says so. When police are allowed to operate in private without public scrutiny we are no longer a democracy.

Beitmeh
Beitmeh

Since this people can not tape the police without their permission, this leads to the issue of the "red light cameras", squad car cameras, and "COPS". Also cameras in public places without the public's permission.

MadMax63
MadMax63

These abusive pigs know they are doing wrong and don't want to get caught. This stroy is going viral and if these pigs aren't already regreting their improper behavior they will soon. Cops cannot act like jack booted nazi thugs and get away with it for very long. These pigs should be fined and terminated or sent to work traffic. Keep filming!!!

Crossbowy
Crossbowy

Cops should not have the right to stop any filming anywhere in public or private if the property owner gave them the right too. They are PUBLIC servants who work FOR the people! Not some private gestapo unit.

This is typical on where the cops are going. Anyone who enforces the law eventually thinks they are ABOVE the law.

Wilddesi666
Wilddesi666

i'm sure the pigs in LA 1991 would have loved to have jailed the guy who recorded the pigs who beat up rodney king--just like saddams secret police!

mz
mz

I hear that the father of one of these guys is a police officer. How proud he must be of such a worthless contribution to society.

Baconlover
Baconlover

Who are you the gestapo? Get a clue jackass....pigs have no expectation of privacy you public servant. Serve the public, pig.

Wilddesi666
Wilddesi666

just like the guy who recorded the cops who tortured rodney king must be a "worthless contribution to society??" you must be a nazi pig yourself.

Joblowme
Joblowme

These guys are clearly just trying to see how far they can go.....hasnt worked out very well

Wilddesi666
Wilddesi666

recording cops in public is going pretty far, isn't it??? just like saddams secret police would hate for anyone to record their beatings and torturing.....

BadPiggy
BadPiggy

Ha, damn pigs hating on cameras. Don't be scared of you being filmed doing your job!

UK
UK

My understanding is that you can record anywhere where there is no expectation of privacy -- on the streets and South Beach you have no expectation of privacy. Not sure what the battle is about...

MM
MM

What you have described is a baseline constitutional concept. As noted in the article, and as is the case, state laws permissibly refine and make broader this privacy concept.

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