Many people may not know this but there is severe power in filming the police. Around the country people are starting to wake up and realize that the only “real” way to hold police accountable for their actions is to catch their misconduct on camera.
On January 5th, 2015 approx. 4:30pm, I was heading to a nearby train station, I noticed members of the Atlanta Police Department hassling some young juveniles at 3 Joseph E. Lowery. I approached with caution ensuring that I did not violate the law or obstruct in any way. I didn’t know what the young boys were being accused of, so I stood by and filmed the encounter.
The minors were observed by police standing in the breezeway of an apartment building entrance connected to the train station. When police started to approach the teens, they decided to walk the opposite way, because we all know to not voluntarily consent to unwanted contact with law enforcement. This is protected by their First Amendment rights.
Because of this, the police called for additional units. Once they caught up with the teens, the police started questioning them. The young teens felt the need to give police an explanation as to why they decided to walk off.
An unidentified Atlanta police officer (who didn’t realize he was being filmed) used unnecessary excessive force and was caught on camera forcefully shoving one of the boys on the hood of the car for no apparent reason.
Atlanta Police Sgt. Lawanda S. Giles stood by and did not object or correct this officer’s misconduct. Attitude reflects leadership. Sgt Lawanda S. Giles leadership or lack thereof exemplifies the lack of trust that citizens have for law enforcement. In addition, the fact that Sgt. Lawanda S. Giles failed to do an incident/internal report on this officer’s conduct shows the clear lack of police transparency and accountability within the Atlanta Police Department. Sgt. Lawanda S. Giles condones this type of police abuse of power, police misconduct, and excessive force. This reckless lawlessness should not and will not be tolerated by our police officers.
Before approaching officers, I requested to approach, so they didn’t claim I “obstructed” them. I then congratulated the other officers for handling the situation in a respectable manner and not abusing their power.
I was filming for both the officer’s protection and of course for the young black males being accosted by Atlanta Police. Accountability is on both sides of the fence. Once the young males observed me filming them, they began to try to make me stop filming, not realizing that because I was filming they ended up being released.
We have reported many stories of police officers arresting people for filming them in public while in commission of performing their duties. Some police officers in different states have went as far as charging people with wiretapping, eavesdropping, and violation of privacy for filming them. Thank God the US Supreme Court has upheld the rights of the people and the Laws of the Land and ruled that filming police officers or anyone for that matter is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. When in public, there is no reasonable expectation or right to privacy.
When you walk onto the public street you are being filmed by private businesses, the police etc. When you walk into a bank or store you are being filmed. The only time you can’t expect to be film is in a public bathroom or in the privacy of your own home.