Monday, December 18, 2006
In the latest attack on the first amendment, a
shocking video has emerged of the NYPD attacking a protestor and
stealing his camera and footage at a demonstration demanding justice
for an independent video journalist who was shot and killed earlier
The filmmaker, Flux
Rostrum, was filming the interaction between protestors
and police outside the Mexican Consulate in late October at a
demonstration protesting the murder of journalist Brad
Will, who was shot and killed on October 27, 2006
during the teachers' strike in the Mexican city of Oaxaca. His
murderers are believed to be local officials.
Flux was not arrested, nor did he receive a receipt
for seized property. Without any warning, he was jumped by two
police officers, one of whom is an NYPD captain, and knocked down
onto the asphalt of 39th Street. A police officer then snatched
the camera out of Flux's hands. As Flux attempted to protect himself
and his equipment from being trampled and beaten, the cop with
the camera conferred with another officer and scurried back into
the building to hide the camera.
Video of the events quite clearly shows the cop
saying "I want that camera" before Flux is jumped and
attacked. View the video below.
When Flux attempted to get his camera back after the demonstration,
he was threatened with arrest by a Lieutenant at the 17th Precinct.
His lawyer was told that camera was found "abandoned"
at the scene and that it had been turned over to the Manhattan
District Attorney's office to be used as evidence against people
arrested at the Mexican Consulate demonstration that day.
In an email message sent to me by Flux he states:
I would NOT have released the video below that details
the incident from about 7 different camera angles if I thought
others with a vested interest would not help spread the word.
I am seeking to get the camera and footage back.
I am seeking to punish them in any way possible in order
to send the message that cops can no longer get away with smashing
and stealing people's cameras.
Everyone who films in public needs to toss my case a little
attention about now... it could make us all a little safer out
The PD are using a variety of stall tactics
and so we've decided to go public with this video in order to
pressure them into admitting guilt and righting their wrongs.
... But mostly so they think twice about doing this again. Camera
smashing & stealing by the cops has become routine and this
is a great opportunity to put a stop to it.
The actions taken by the police in this video are indicative
of the attitude of authorities towards peaceful protest in America
today. They seek to make the demonstration violent simply as an
excuse to break it up, we see this over and over again.
Imagine what would happen to protestors if they reacted this
way when police film them at demonstrations. Filming in public
is a right every American citizen has under the first amendment,
which is why the cops in this instance had to steal the camera
and the footage, because there was no legal basis to seize it.
It seems that filming and photographing is now deemed to be a
threat per se. Pick from any number of stories archived at www.freedomtophotograph.com
In Seattle, police banned a photography student from a public
park. He was taking photographs of a bridge for a homework assignment.
The officers who ban him from the park do so without the knowledge
of park officials and have no authority to do so.
In Texas a man was first threatened by neighbors and then reportedly
accosted and sprayed with pepper spray by police. He was walking
around his neighborhood, filming with his new video camera.
In New York, National Press Photographers Association members
stage a protest in the New York subway system to bring attention
to a proposed law to ban photography in the subway system.
In Philadelphia a magazine photographer was detained and questioned
after a parade for taking architectural shots while waiting for
a subway train.
In Harrisburg, PA a man was swarmed by 8 Police and accused of
being a member of Al-Qaeda after shooting pictures of his new
car under a bridge.
We have recently exposed how some police now do not understand
that they are violating
the rights of individuals. In other cases we have
witnessed police pull out pocket constitutions from cars and question
Earlier this year journalist Greg
Palast, whilst working for ABC, had charges brought
against him by the Department of Homeland Security for videotaping
the thousands of Katrina evacuees still held behind a barbed wire
in a trailer park encampment a hundred miles from New Orleans.
The DHS deemed this to be unauthorized filming of "critical
infrastructure". After exposure in the alternative media,
the charges were dropped. One would also hope that exposure of
Flux's case, in the context of other blatant attacks on freedom
of speech and the right to assembly, will lead to a back down
on the part of the NYPD.