Project created and maintained by Dr. Q
Across the country, police officers and other government officials are waging a war on cameras. People everywhere are being harassed, detained, threatened, assaulted, and even arrested just for legally taking photographs or filming. Government officials are even unlawfully confiscating cameras and destroying photographs and videos. This map was created to track this disturbing trend.
The map currently has more than 90 markers on it. Each marker represents one or more incidents in which a person was harassed, detained, threatened, attacked, arrested, or charged with a crime for using a camera, incidents where a camera was seized, or incidents where government officials attempted to cover up video evidence. The events on the map all occurred between 2005 and the present. I have tried to place all events as close as possible to where they happened. In some cases, I was able to get the exact address. In other cases, I was able to get the street address. In others, I was only able to narrow it down to a city or town.
This map is not intended to be comprehensive. It is a perpetual work-in-progress and I will continue adding new events to it for the foreseeable future. If you would like to tell me about an incident that I missed, see below for information on how to do so.
If you’d like a copy of the text attached to the markers on the map to study, you can download one here (.doc format).
Types of events on this map:
- Light blue — indicates that a person was harassed for photography or filming, but no force was used or legal action taken against the photographer or videographer. Harassment includes interfering with a photographer or videographer, pestering them with unnecessary questions about why they are taking pictures/filming, detaining them, using threats, etc.
- Blue — indicates that force was used against someone for photography or videography, but no legal action was taken against the photographer or videographer.
- Purple — indicates that cameras were seized, but no arrests were made or charges filed against the photographer or videographer.
- Red — indicates that a person was arrested and/or criminally charged for photography or filming.
- Yellow — indicates that a government agent made improper use of government-owned cameras or that government agents refused to release footage when it was in the public interest to do so.
- Green — indicates an event that does not fit into any of the other categories but seemed worthwhile to include.
How you can support or contribute to this map
Suggest a revision or new event
If you know of an event that belongs on the map or have any additional information about the events already on the map, please let me know. You can email me at dctrq[at]copblock[dot]org. Please be prepared to document any claims you make. Helpful sources include mainstream media accounts (newspaper and magazine articles, TV news videos, etc.), blog entries, court documents, and videos. I would also appreciate it if people let me know about any factual inaccuracies that I have made and offer constructive criticism. I will do my best to respond to emails in a timely manner.
Share this map
Please share this map with family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else you might know. I also encourage you to share it using social media sites like Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, and so on.
- “Illinois: Where Recording On-Duty Cops Is Treated Like Sexual Assault” (2010) by Radley Balko
- “The War on Cameras” (2011) by Radley Balko
- “Why cops fear cameras” (2009) by Carlos Miller
- “Police: They Love & Hate the Camera” (2010) by Adam Mueller
- “Cops on Camera” (2010) by David Ruttgers
- Busted: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters — An educational film about how to handle police encounters.
- 10 Rules for Dealing with Police — A second educational film about how to handle police encounters.
- “In Praise of the Fifth Amendment Right to Not Be a Witness Against Yourself” — A lecture about why you should never speak to police officers.
- “The Photographer’s Right” by Bert P. Krages — A printable pocket guide that explains the legal rights of photographers.
- “How to Record the Cops” (2010) by Radley Balko (printable booklet version here) — A technology guide for those interested in filming the police.
- Copwatch Handbook (.pdf format) — A short book about how to run a Copwatch group. Unfortunately, much of the information is specific to Berkeley, CA, but it should still be useful to anyone interested in monitoring the police.
- CopBlock.org — A group blog that focuses on police misconduct. The home of The War On Cameras: An Interactive Map.
- The Agitator — The blog of journalist Radley Balko. Documents misconduct and abuse in police departments and the criminal justice system.
- Photography is Not a Crime — The blog of journalist and photographer Carlos Miller. Focuses on the rights of photographers and videographers.
- Injustice Everywhere — Home of the National Police Misconduct Statistics Reporting Project. Features daily updates about police misconduct as well as statistical databases, analysis, maps, and more.