During Mardi Gras 2007, Greg Griffith videotaped police grabbing a young girl by the hair and throwing her on the ground. The girl was soon released, but Griffith continued to film the police involved. Although the police appear to move on, they soon returned. On the video (which Griffith was able to preserve and is posted online) it appears that one of the officers rushes up to Griffith and violently arrests him without cause.
According to a press release from the ACLU of Louisiana, the ACLU (in partnership with Tulane Law Clinic) have jointly sued the New Orleans Police Department, Chief Warren Riley, and several officers for wrongful arrest and suppression of free speech, on behalf of two men who were arrested for filming police interaction with the public.
Greg Griffith and Noah Learned were watching the 2007 Bacchus parade on Canal Street when they saw and videotaped police officers engaging in what appeared to be rough treatment of a teenage girl. When the police realized that they were being filmed, they tackled and arrested both plaintiffs, seized the camera, and erased the video footage. "The public has a First Amendment right to film all activities that occur on public streets, including police activities," said Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "In fact, public scrutiny of the actions of the police and other public officials is essential to the preservation of basic rights."The case is being heard in the federal courtroom of Judge Jay Zainey, US District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. We're told it's important for supporters to be in the courtroom.
The lawsuit...seeks a declaration that the arrests and the seizure of the camera were illegal, an injunction prohibiting any future interference with the public's right to film police activities, and damages.