Last August a citizen was filming Boston Police and was subsequently harassed and threatened. Here is a copy of that video (WARNING: Strong Language).
Now before you jump to any conclusions, please understand that the right of citizens to film Boston Police has been upheld in court and that decision was handed down long before this incident.
So again, we are treated to another clear-cut example of police intimidation, an indicator that they would stop at nothing to retaliate against the website that exposed one of their detectives intimidating a citizen from video recording him in public.
And this is rather telling considering the Boston Police Department dished out a $170,000 settlement to Simon Glik last year, a Boston attorney who had been arrested on wiretapping charges after he video recorded cops making an arrest in a public park.
It was the landmark Glik vs Boston decision in 2011, which led to the settlement that firmly established that citizens, especially in Boston, have the right to record police.
Source: Photography is Not a Crime
The gentleman with the camera may have been a bit flippant with the police but we must understand that he had every right to be. His rights were being violated.
The video in and of itself was just a black eye for Boston Police, but it seems like they may have found another way to reach out and get their vengeance over this incident.
Blogger Carlos Miller lays out how a simple video with less than 100 views and a phone call has led the police to file charges that could land fellow blogger, and journalism student, Taylor Hardy in prison for up to 5 years.
It started with a very clear-cut case of police intimidation against a man trying to video record Boston police conducting an investigation in broad daylight last August, in which an overbearing detective pushed and shoved the videographer away from the scene, threatening to arrest him on felony battery on a police officer when the video shows he was the one committing battery on the videographer.
I was one of the first sites to post the video, which ended up going viral, setting the stage for what would become an intense campaign of police retaliation against Photography is Not a Crime –perhaps because I had posted the main number to the Boston Police Department at the bottom of the story, which allowed readers to contact them to show them we are paying attention.
Call floods to government agencies is a common tactic we have used here on PINAC after videos have emerged showing complete abuse of authority against citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to record.
As annoying as it may be for public officials, we have a right to petition the government for redress of grievances without fear of retaliation.
At least in theory.
The day after I posted the video, PINAC crew member Taylor Hardy, a 25-year-old journalism student from Miami, called a Boston police public information officer for comment, recording the conversation on his iPad.
Boston police spokeswoman Angelene Richardson said she had not seen the video of the overbearing detective, so the conversation was useless to me, and I didn’t bother posting it on PINAC, even though Hardy had posted a portion of their conversation on his Youtube channel.
And that led to Richardson discovering the video and filing a complaint against Hardy for illegal wiretapping, claiming he had never informed her he was recording, a felony charge that can land him in prison for five years.
The only problem for them is that their only piece of evidence is a portion of a conversation Hardy had posted online, which he had since removed. He didn’t even include her name in the video, which had received less than 100 views when it came across Detective Nick Moore’s desk last month.
And the burden of proof lies on them, so unless they recorded Hardy’s entire conversation, which would make the whole violation of a two-party consent law argument moot, they will be hard-pressed to prove he didn’t advise her he was recording upon her answering the phone, which he, in fact, did, as you can see from our Facebook conversation below from August 14.
How can a phone call from an identified media source to a police department be considered “wiretapping?” This seems like a frivolous charge at best and it seems like they may be setting themselves up for another potential lawsuit.
Angelene Richardson is a media spokesperson. She is not some undercover detective with a private line who cannot risk her cover being blown.
If the city has to shell out another $170,000 settlement is that fair to Bostonians who pay taxes? I think not.
I am sure that Taylor Hardy has had his share of distress over this targeting and I would not doubt that he does file a suit if he is exonerated of all charges.
If he is not exonerated then I would contend the problem is even worse.
If Richardson is in fact retaliating because her number was published then she needs to get over it. The public has every right to hold the police accountable. I am not sure if her number was the right number to list in this situation but that is what bloggers do.
We find stories that mainstream media might overlook or ignore and we call upon our readers to take action. A quick Alexa check tells me that photographyisnotacrime.com is ranked around 135,000 globally. I can tell you by watching our own rankings that a site in that range is probably getting less than 10,000 visitors a day. I can’t see how a site that small would have caused any real inconvenience to Richardson though I could be wrong. But it’s not like the number was printed by Fox News.
Citizens have a right to hold the police accountable.
If the Boston Police want to file suit or charges they might want to look into filing those charges against the NSA. They are probably guilty of a million or more counts of illegal wiretapping in the city of Boston.
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