News & Politics

D.C. Police Can't Use Body Cameras to Film Protesters Unless Violence Erupts

U.S. Capitol Police move in to make arrests as voting rights reform demonstrators stage a sit-in at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, April 11, 2016, urging lawmakers to get money out of the political process. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Although all D.C. police officers have recently been outfitted with body cameras, they won’t be able to have them turned on during the presidential inauguration protests unless the officer has to take action, which will prevent them from capturing what led to the police confrontation.

According to NBC News 4’s Mark Segraves, it will be “against the law” for body cameras to be on while police are monitoring the protesters, but protesters will be able to record the officers.

“The police shouldn’t be able to surveil First Amendment activity,” said Monica Hopkins-Maxwell of the ACLU of the District of Columbia. She argued that there were privacy concerns with the availability of body cameras. “Who looks at that data? What’s that data used for?” she asked.

While the ACLU is concerned about the privacy of protesters, it has encouraged protesters to record police by creating an app “which allows citizens to report police in real time if you think they’re violating someone’s constitutional rights.” The app, called “Mobile Justice,” allows cop-hating agitators to record the police and send the recordings to the ACLU for review.

“The more people who are watching, the less incidents of collision between the police and protesters,” Maxwell smiled.

In light of the many violent protests they’ve seen in recent years, law enforcement officers across the nation have to be appalled.

Via Blue Lives Matter:

America has a lot of recent experience with Black Lives Matter protests devolving into riots. Oftentimes, the only lead to determining the identities of criminal rioters is camera footage. In the 2015 Baltimore riots, Donta Betts was captured on camera squirting lighter fluid on propane tanks. At the Portland election riots November 2016, Mateen Shaheed was captured on camera causing $50,000 worth of damage. During the 2016 Charlotte riots, police were able to use footage to identify the killer who gunned down Justin Carr.

Furthermore, it’s fairly standard practice for police to have designated cameramen at protests so the department can not only show evidence of criminal activity, but the department can defend itself from false claims.

Following the Ferguson rioting, a $41.5 million dollar lawsuit against the city was dismissed by a judge when video shows that the complainants were lying. Robert Patrick with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, Tracey White, alleged she and her 17-year-old son were violently arrested inside a Ferguson McDonald’s. She further embellished the story claiming that officers with rifles converged on them “like something out of a movie.” White stated that as she tried to give her son an iPad she was carrying they arrested her son, and as she protested the treatment of her son she too was thrown to the ground and arrested while officers used racial slurs.

White must have forgotten, or not known, that videos actually showed her being arrested a block away from the McDonald’s. “She agreed that video showed an officer placing hand ties on her, and that she was not on the ground, and that there was no knee in her back,” Autrey wrote. “No racial epithets or slurs were used against Tracey White.”

Groups who intend of breaking the law during inauguration day protests know that cameras are their greatest threat in being identified in [sic] prosecuted, so they complained that it would violate their constitutional rights for them to be recorded in a public place where they had no expectation of privacy. Once nonsense like this is repeated enough, people start to accept it as a fact, even though it has no basis in reality. Cowardly administrators either believe it, or are too afraid of a lawsuit, so they hamstring the police to cater to criminals.

As Blue Lives Matter notes, Black Lives Matter and a number of violent anarchist groups have threatened to “shut down” the inauguration and prevent the peaceful transfer of power, “already giving officers reason to believe that there will be criminal activity at the protests.”

Second City Cop says:

In light of the potential for directed disruption (leftists), terrorism (local and international), and “protests” that morph into something more sinister, we’d think the every camera in the nation ought to be turned on this Friday.

There will be many members of the media filming the mayhem as it happens, but thanks to the ACLU’s efforts many of the agitators will still be able to escape prosecution without a police video.