Cops and Cameras Are A Dangerous Mix

October 25, 2010

It might be dangerous to pull out your camera anywhere near a cop these days. Fortunately, a recently settled law suit stemming from a New York City incident may change things.

Antonio Musumeci, a 29 year-old computer programmer from New Jersey, was arrested for filming the arrest of a political activist outside the New York Federal Court Building. You can read the details of the arrest here.

The New York Civil Liberties Union sued the Department of Homeland Security on his behalf, and the case was settled last week. As part of the settlement, the Feds acknowledged “the public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces” and remind Government officials that “there are currently no general security regulations prohibiting exterior photography by individuals from publicly accessible spaces, absent a written local rule, regulation or order.” For a first hand account of the arrest, read Mr. Musumeci’s post.

Mr. Musumeci was treated badly and illegally detained, but he was comparatively lucky. George Donnelly endured far worse as a result of his cinematic endeavours.

I have posted about cops and cameras before. For a really good discussion of the right to photograph, I recommend reading this post on

What is ironic about this recent case is that the activist who was arrested in front of the Federal Court Building was handing out literature from FIJA, The Fully Informed Jury Association. This organization seeks to spread the word about the concept of jury nullification, which I have posted about previously. Not only were Government officials illegally preventing a citizen from filming an arrest. They also may have been preventing public dissemination of information concerning a constitutionally protected right. I am losing track of how many amendments to the Bill of Rights  have been violated.

{ 1 comment }

George Donnelly October 25, 2010 at 10:13 am

The situation when viewed from the news is bad. But when you view it from the perspective of actually trying to exercise these alleged rights, the situation is atrocious and desperate. Thanks for covering.

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