Monday, May 09, 2011

The Jack-Booted Thug(s) of the Week...

... are unfortunately too numerous this time around to name just one winner.

1.  A person was arrested at Denver International Airport on Saturday morning after "authorities" noticed he was videotaping the security lines. He was taken into custody "on suspicion of interfering with a transportation facility" along with three people in the security line.

We're not sure how openly photographing a security checkpoint counts as "interfering", especially when the TSA itself admits that doing so is perfectly legal and acceptable behavior.  Those cops had better have another, much better reason for arresting this person or they could find themselves in serious legal trouble.

Apparently the folks in line the person was filming didn't possess IDs or boarding passes.  That's certainly anomalous (but also not illegal) behavior but again, the cops wouldn't have found this out unless they wrongly detained the photographer in the first place, which will probably result in the suppression of any evidence of wrongdoing gained from their arrest (of which there have been no reports to date).

We certainly don't wish to be the victims of terrorist acts, but government officials have to follow the rules they themselves put into place or else we're no better than any other tin-pot Third World dictatorship. 

2.  17-year-old high-school student and anti-police corruption activist Robert Wanek was unlawfully arrested last Friday by "Officer" Dustin Hill of the Wahpeton, North Dakota Police Department for daring to film the cop on a public street as part of Wanek's independent investigation into alleged unwarranted raids taking place in the town.  Hill is ironically one of the officers accused of abusing his police powers, and in this incident he pretty much proves Wanek's allegations for him:

According to Wanek he was held in handcuffs and questioned by another officer for approximately one hour without being read his rights or his parents being notified (he is a minor after all), and upon his release was informed that he had been unlawfully detained solely because he "had pissed Dustin Hill off".  Apparently that's some sort of crime in that podunk burg. 

Wanek is asking all concerned individuals to call the Wahpeton Police Chief at 701-642-7722 to politely inquire whether an investigation into "Officer" Hill's clearly unlawful and bullying behavior has been opened, and if not why not.

(via CopBlock 

3.  Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times Free Press reporter Kate Harrison last Thursday was interviewing volunteers cleaning up the damage from massive flooding in the area while also taking pictures when she was ordered by Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd and Hamilton County Director of Emergency Services Don Allen (way too many chiefs there, it seems) to stop taking photographs, a clear violation of her Constitutional rights as both a private citizen and a working journalist covering a legitimate news story in public.

"Harrison also was commanded by emergency services spokeswoman Amy Maxwell not to publish any of the photographs she had taken, and later was threatened with arrest. (We published one of Harrison’s photos.)"

This wasn't the only run-in the paper's reporters had with overreaching officials that day, by the way:

"In a similar incident on the same day, another member of our news staff — photographer Allison Carter — was threatened with arrest by a Catoosa County deputy sheriff if she did not cease photographing tornado damage at a Food Lion shopping center, and if she did not delete the pictures she had taken from her camera."

These incidents are completely unacceptable behavior on the part of those public "servants", and we hope the paper pursues all legal remedies available to it to have those bullies severely punished for their attempt at official intimidation.

(Jack Lail via Unc)

1 comment:

Chris Mallory said...

While calling the police chief/station is needed activity, it might be more useful to flood calls to the mayor, city council/commission members, and the city attorney. They are the ones who control the purse strings.