Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Questions on NOPD's Respect for First Amendment

From our friends at ACLU of Louisiana:

Interference With Photographing Police Action Prompts Request for Public Records

Concerned about repeated interference with the public's right to photograph police conduct, the ACLU of Louisiana has send a request to Superintendent Ronal Serpas seeking documents pertaining to First Amendment training provided to NOPD officers. This request was prompted by the events surrounding the Krewe of Eris parade on March 6, 2011, during which an NOPD officer knocked a cell phone camera out of the hands of its owner who was filming police conduct on the street.

For many years the ACLU of Louisiana has been troubled by an ongoing pattern of First Amendment violations by NOPD officers. In June, 2010, the ACLU of Louisiana released a report entitled “Observing, photographing & filming the New Orleans Police Department,” which outlines fifteen instances in which people were prevented from filming or otherwise recording police conduct. “Superintendent Serpas is well aware of the longstanding problem within the NOPD on this issue,” said Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “He has seen our report. He has promised enhanced training for his officers on this very important issue. That it has happened yet again indicates that the changes that he promised last year have not yet been implemented.”
As the NOPD broke up the Eris parade on March 6, at least one video shot by a witness shows what appears to be police using a Taser on a parade participant. That video also shows an officer knocking the camera out of the hand of the photographer, who was able to retrieve it and continue filming. Esman continued: “Only in a police state, in which law enforcement has no accountability to the public, should police fear disclosure of their conduct. If police are acting properly, they should welcome scrutiny of their actions. That NOPD officers continue to interfere with the fundamental right to record their activities suggests that they know they are acting outside the law.”

In its letter, the ACLU requested all documents that show information provided to NOPD officers concerning the rights of the public to record, in any fashion, what they see in public and training materials on First Amendment rights and protections.

Under the law, the NOPD has until March 18 respond to the ACLU's letter.

A copy of the ACLU's letter can be found here.

The ACLU's June 2010 report can be found at this link.

More video from the police attacks on the Eris parade can be found here and here.

1 comment:

brian said...

I have examined your various blogs, and the subjects covered, and you and your team member are great candidates to appear live on my weekly radio show, From the Ground Up, Thursdays on WGSO 990 am, from 5 to 6 pm. We are the only radio show in greater New Orleans to focus exclusively on reducing crime in our City. We focus on the useless shootings, the bad cops, the slow legal system. We spend a good deal of time trying to figure out ways to stop young men from killing each other. We introduce programs that are hoped to help. We feature community groups, neighborhood people, professionals, lawyers, police, crimetstoppers and more. How about you being out guest and share your ideas, experiences and objectives?

Brian Opert
"From the Ground Up"
WGSO 990 am
Thursdays at 5 pm