Police: They Love & Hate The Camera

I’m sure most of you have heard of Anthony Graber (video above), who was show-boating on his motorcycle and ended up having a gun pulled on him.  What you may not know is that after that incident his home was raided by people with badges who stole his property. And now those people with badges want to put him in a cage.

This is a textbook case of those with badges disliking their actions being caught on film.  It also highlights the lengths they’re willing to go to discourage others from doing so.  In this post I’ll break down why it’s your right to film police, the double-standard police hold towards filming, and how Anthony’s case is unique.

Legality of Filming Public Officials

This has been discussed several times on Cop Block’s Facebook page and I think it’s worth noting here as well.  What people need to understand about expectation(s) of privacy – an issue that courts address in evaluating these cases – is whether or not the plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area where the filming took place.  Though you should (out of respect, in my opinion) always ask people who don’t work for the State if you can film them, you’re not legally required to do so when in public spaces, as courts have ruled there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.  Think about it: if you’re at a gas station or a bank you know you’re most likely on film even if you can’t see the cameras and even if you’re just walking by.  Yet, the gas station or bank doesn’t ask your permission to film you.  Therefore, if you do something silly, sexual or otherwise, you couldn’t sue (or wouldn’t win) if that video was released.  This is my personal interpretation of the law but there are millions of those out there, so do your own research.

I personally feel that as long as your salary is paid by tax dollars and you claim to be working for the ‘people’ you have no right to privacy. This is doubly true while you’re actually conducting your ‘duties.’  I will never and have never asked an officer/public official if it’s okay to film them.  If they don’t like it, they need to find a different job. Besides, most of us are recorded in some form at work, one that isn’t funded by theft and doesn’t claim to act on behalf of the people.

The hypocrisy within Police and State Departments when it comes to filming

This is where the matter would get comical if it weren’t so freaking pathetic.  We all know the police are more than willing to release a video of Average Joe committing a crime, as well as any information they can about them to the press.  Yet, when an officer does something wrong that video either never surfaces or does so years later.

Case in point: a Toledo bar had a problem removing people for selling drugs on their property.  Those who were ask to leave for doing so became violent and shoot randomly into the bar.  A cook in the bar ran to the kitchen, as he was out in front helping to remove the rowdy customers, to get his gun, a gun the state says he’s not allowed to have since the establishment serves alcohol.  After the shootout, several people present in the bar later testified in court that the cooks’ actions saved their lives, but the cook fled presumably because he knew he’d be in trouble with the gang, oops, the police.  The police released the footage almost immediately in a attempt to catch not only the ones who fired into the bar, but the cook as well.  All in the name of justice, right? Oh, by the way no one was killed or injured in the shootout.

The views officers hold on the use of  video changes when it comes to their own.  As pointed out above, they’re more than happy to use the camera or tapes to catch a criminal.  Though when it comes to their own, like in the death of 7 yr old  Aiyana Jones, they refuse to release the video and give only limited details of the case.  They also have laws (really just man-made legislation) in place to keep the people who took the footage, lawyers for the family and others from releasing the footage.  If this were a person without a badge who shot Aiyana there would be a nation wide man hunt for them.  The video would be on every news channel, all over the web, and mentioned in every major paper.  The trial would happen sooner than most and be broadcast all over TV.   But that’s not the case for the boys (and girls) in blue.

Situations like these really make one wonder how much remorse, if any, police have for their actions.  If this officer who harmed someone would have to face the family, media and world maybe, just maybe, he would gain forgiveness.  Instead he’s on paid leave, most likely somewhere far from Detroit, thinking he was just doing his job and this is just collateral damage.

What does all this mean to Anthony Graber’s case?

Well on the legality side of it, not much if you ask me, and here’s why.  Anthony wasn’t intending to film anybody, just his own actions.  The officer put himself in the view of his camera, which was clearly visible, and had no expectation of privacy.  Not to mention there was a MARKED squad car behind him, which I think it’d be safe to assume had audio and video rolling at the time.

If Anthony’s video would have showcased cops in a more favorable manner or someone committing a crime, they (the police) wouldn’t have hesitated in releasing it to the public.   Instead they want to make an example of him, to the tune of 5 yrs in prison, and discourage others from doing the same.  Well, not me.  And I hope no one else who is reading this.  It seems at least some people agree with us according to this post on a local news outlet. It’s our right to monitor those who claim to keep us safe, including politicians, regardless of what words they put on paper.  If we stop filming them and give into to the double standard, where will that leave us?


Ademo Freeman

was born and raised in Wisconsin, traveled the country in a RV dubbed "MARV" and is an advocate of a voluntary society, where force is replaced with voluntary interactions. He's partaken in projects such as, Motorhome Diaries, Liberty on Tour, Free Keene, Free Talk Live and is the Founder of CopBlock.org. ____________________________________________________________________________ If you enjoy my work at CopBlock.org, please, consider donating $1/month to the CopBlock Network or purchasing CopBlock.org Gear from the store. ____________________________________________________________________________ Find Ademo at these social networks: Facebook Twitter Youtube