Whitehead: First Amendment won in court

Monday, July 17, 2017
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

police lights flashingA federal appeals court has issued a ruling favorable to citizen reporters.

There were two cases in the mix. The first involved Amanda Geraci, who monitors police in Philadelphia at protests or demonstrations, and records them. 

Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead, a civil liberties attorney, describes a 2012 incident.

“She attended a protest at a fracking convention in Philadelphia when she saw police arrest one of the protesters,” he tells OnewNewNow. “Amanda moved to a spot where she could better observe and videotape the incident."

That's when a police officer grabbed her and threw her against a pillar, preventing her from filming the arrest. 

Whitehead, John (Rutherford Institute)In a second incident, Temple University student Richard Fields recorded 20 police officers outside a house where a party was being held. He was arrested and handcuffed, and his belongings were confiscated. A criminal charge was later dropped.

The cases finally made their way to a federal appeals court.

“The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the right to record police is not limited," reports Whitehead, "and noted that other courts had affirmed the First Amendment right to collect information on government activities. So you can record the police."

He says it's a good First Amendment ruling since it allows the public to record authorities as long as the act doesn't impede an investigation.

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