ACLU challenges ban on filming police — Analysis

American Civil Liberties Union filed suit to contest a recent Arizona law that bars citizens from recording police officers from close quarters. The ACLU insists the US Constitution guarantees the right of all Americans to record them.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this week by rights groups seeking to repeal July legislation on the ground that it was in violation of the First Amendment, sought to be overturned.

“The constitutional right to record police engaged in official duties is one of the public’s most effective accountability tools against police wrongdoing,”The ACLU stated in a statement that they will support the bill. “directly suppress free speech rights, while also limiting public accountability and effective protest of government actions.”

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Republican Governor Doug Ducey made the bill a law in August and is scheduled to enter effect in September. It will ban officers being filmed from less than 8 feet (2.24 meters) distance. However, there are exceptions for those in cars during traffic stop and individuals who speak to the police within enclosed areas on their property. 

According to New York University’s First Amendment Watch project, more than half of the US population lives in states where courts have recognized the right to film the police, many considering it a constitutionally protected activity. Arizona could be one of those states that gives the ACLU more ammunition in its latest case. 

Prior to the Arizona bill being passed, the National Press Photographers Association along with 23 other journalistic and civil liberties organisations wrote an open condemnation letter.

The US bans cops from being filmed up close

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