The police and you!

The police and you!

Note on above picture…

The date in the exif info states photo was taken August 3, 2003.  Happy anniversary!.  I hope you’re outta jail…or maybe better said, I hope you’re not back in jail…but recalling the types of people these guys were, we can only hope for the best.

More…it was taken with the Canon 10D.  What a horrible file.  Probably shot with the 20-35mm 2.8 lens.  How far we’ve come!!!!

I was a budding street photographer walking around Jersey City when I ran into a horrible Dominican Republic Pride Parade where mayhem was on the rise.  Mayhem usually was hand in hand with ethnic pride parades.  I found national pride in many ethnic groups equated fighting and cussing (and in some cases raping) for the good of the nation you fled or had very little connection.

I was just walking along when I saw a ruckus rushing towards me at full speed.  Red tried to escape from the clutches of the JC police but was quickly apprehended and arrested.  Of course I snapped away until a burly officer got in my face with that firm and polite rudeness that most cops have about me being in the way and letting the police do what they gotta do.  I recall his words as something like we got a job to do here and we don’t need citizens in the way recording our actions.

Fast forward to 2011.

My Canon 10 D is now replaced by a Mark IV and my surrounding have gone tropical from urban.  (Alas, I miss those days…)

Load of videos are popping up on YouTube and other media sites showing citizens and supposedly members of the media being arrested for simply videotaping police in action.  While I should note my brother is currently a police officer in Texas, I do have my feelings on both sides of the fence for this matter.

Here are three videos where you can see citizens being harassed and arrested by the men in blue.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

In all three videos, we see two citizens and one supposedly freelance member of the media being harassed and arrested for simply videotaping a crime scene or police action.  The police, or as I will refer to now as the cops, overreact.  They overreact BIG TIME.  The two civilians were on their property and the police should have never harassed them for observing and recording the police.  The freelancer was completely harrased and arrested with no real premise other than he didn’t obey.

Should any of them have been arrested?  Probably not.  Should the cops be retrained in understanding how to deal with the public using easily accessible recording devices?  Indeed.  Should the cops involved be duly punished?  Surely.

Everyone has a camera or video recorder in their phone.  Everyone has a phone.  Has our privacy been eroded?  For sure.  You can’t go anywhere without seeing some idiot with a camera snapping a picture these days. Its almost as if we can’t avoid technology as somewhere somehow we are being recorded.  Would you be happy if your bosses watched your every move via a video above your desk?  I should think not.  I would assume the police feel the same way.

If you do see the videos, clearly the civilians mouth off to the cops in the first and second vids.  They both quickly get combative and argumentative about their rights, “I’m not doing anything wrong” blah blah blah. But in reality, what are the civilians taping?  What is so important they need to stand their with a camera pointed at the police?  Where is this video gonna end up?  How will a civilian paint the picture of the police’s actions?  Are they just looking to be the next George Holliday hoping to cash in on a new Rodney King video?  Are they hoping to be confronted by the police and get arrested so they can sue?  What is the point of doing what they are doing?

SURE–many great (horrible, really) things have come up like the King video or the transit cop who killed an unarmed black man in San Fransisco.  Yes, I would prefer to have the public videotaping more police action so as to combat possible wrong doings of law enforcement.  However, how important is it risk irritating the police and getting arrested?

On a daily basis, the cops have to deal with the scum of the earth.  Drug dealers, pimps, crooks, thieves, murderers, liars, jackasses and possibly donkeys.  EVERYONE hates the police until they need one.  I don’t know one cop who would say he’s a loved and respected member of society.  Everyone wants to piss on a cop.  We all love the police when they come to save us all but when they pull us over for pushing down the pedal on yellow, we hate the men in blue.  My brother bears scars of having to deal with us a-holes, both physical and mental.  I remember he once told me that the worse people to arrest and deal with are the “educated types like me.”  We all know our rights, scream of lawsuits, and spit in their faces any chance we get.  We’re all lawyers when we stumble out of bars and try to get behind the wheel at four AM.  Derelicts and hookers have more manners than we-know-it-alls.

Ever seen the TV show Cops?  The public is horrible.  I sometimes wish the police would just shoot a few of us so we’d learn to respect one another.  Come live on my street on any First Friday and hear all the degreed hoi polloi screaming down Nuuanu at 3am.  The hookers on Kukui St are as quiet as meeces, as they should be.

Anyway, the civilians get combative and in some ways the cops have very little options other than to arrest them for not “obeying” their commands.  Again, what the hell was so important for those idiots to be recording the police?  I mean what was happening in front of them that they risked arrest?  Was it worth it?  It sure is now they got the police department by the short hairs and Harry the Luuaawwwyyahh will be taking your tax dollars.  The women in Rochester should have gone into her house and shut the hell up.  Opened a window big and wide and continued.  She was a dummy that talked her way into being a rich victim of a cop who made a mistake.  The idiot in Nevada first lied and said he didn’t live there, then he did say it was his house.  He wouldn’t put the camera down and again, knew his rights, etc…If it was his house, he should have gone in and recorded from his window, rooftop, etc…Sure he got roughed up, but probably no more than if he had played a game of tackle football in the park.  The knucklehead got the video he somewhat hoped to get, sadly, it was him and not the other guy.

The freelance cameraman showed to be the most professional.  He did exactly as a member of the media should behave.  He clearly asked the police politely why he had to move, moved as much as the cop demanded, left when it got to hot, and when elsewhere.  By leaving and following the cop’s directive meant defusing a volatile situation.  This is the difference between a jackass with a videophone or a part timer versus a person who makes his living with a lens.  He left as he was commanded to do and clearly the police had no right to push him away but he left.  He knew what it was worth.  He went a block away and continued his job but the hotheaded cop needed to flex his authority and arrested him.  Wrong!  Bad cop.  The video guy probably won’t sue but the cop will be reprimanded as he deserves.  Clearly the cop had no right to abuse the freelancer.  In the beginning of the conversation, you see the cop looking at what only could be the freelancer’s credential.  If its legit, he should have left him alone, pushed him back but left him alone.

Once again, the cops were wrong.  Clearly wrong.  Were they provoked?  YES.  But they should be better trained.  I recently ran afoul of the police at a school shooting we had a few months ago.  Mark Niesse and I stumbled onto the crime scene and were quickly cursed at and and escorted off the area by a pretty hot cop.  We clearly were somewhere we shouldn’t have been.  We politely identified ourselves, said our “yes sirs” and “no sirs” to avoid having someone interfere with our job.

I can only guess the police are afraid of creating sensationalism as they created by trying to stop a civilian from taping them.  Mix in testosterone, jackass know it all ‘tudes (both sides, of course) and a camera and you have viral video gold.  So many of the comments are so filled with hate towards the police, pure vitriol and disgust which is understandable.  Yet if a crime was being committed against you, would you want the police to come to your home and sweetly ask the criminal to “please sweetheart, put the knife down so we can chat over cookies” bit?  We walk a fine line if we de-fang law enforcement.

Now the scary part is when the government and corporations get together and truly stop us from being able to record and witness reality.  I always figured technology would be built with (or have the ability to insert) a Trojan horse.   Apple (read this) is working on a patent that will allow sensors to “automatically disable the iPhone camera, temporarily, preventing any footage from being recorded.”  Might Canon and Nikon be next?  Might your Android have a kill switch that could be activated by a corporation, law enforcement, or an individual?  Supposedly the tech is being created to protect musicians and movies from being illegally recorded and bootleg distributed.  When might Michelle Obama have this tech so she can disable a camera from taping her eating fries?  Or Lindsay doing coke at a LA club?  Or the police when they arrest and beat a citizen?

Might then Senator Obama have loved to stop me from snapping his photo of him and his daughters on Kailua?  Maybe…who knows?  He screamed at me.  He was so upset I shot him but he was just a man on the beach.  A public beach for that matter.  Secret Service knew not to mess with me.  They knew what my rights were and saw I respected Senator Obama’s rights.  I had already identified myself to the police and secret service and they even ran my name to make sure they knew who I was.  When asked for my ID, I politely produced my Hawaii issued, smiled, said my “yes, sirs,” and that was that.  I never got in the Senator’s face.  I shot with my huge 400mm lens and stayed a good deal away from him.  Even after Obama screamed at me, Secret Service told me to back off a bit which I did.  I walked a good 20 yards further out and gave him more breathing room.  Obama and the Secret Service knew they couldn’t interfere with my news gathering rights.  Now might things change? Might the government enact said Trojan device to stop the public from witnessing the truth?

Technology only knows…