By 2019, more than 81% of Americans owned a smartphone, as compared to 35% in 2011. This has given rise to “citizen journalists” who record and disseminate videos of police officers performing their duties in public. Does the First Amendment protect them, or can the state prohibit the recording of police activity?
On June 21st, a federal judge dismissed lawsuits filed against then-President Donald Trump and other federal officials who were being sued for violating the rights of protestors last June. After a group of protestors were forcibly removed from Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2020, the ACLU of D.C., Black Lives Matters, and others filed suit against Trump, then-Attorney William Barr, and other federal officials alleging that they conspired to violate demonstrators right to protest when they cleared the park to allow Trump to pose for a photo op in front of a nearby historic church.
After the U.S. Park Police (USPP) led law enforcement to forcibly shut down a mostly peaceful protest on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., an hour before a city-wide curfew on June 1st, 2020, the protestors and the press have pushed for answers about who was responsible for the decision. More than a year later, the Department of Interior has published a report with some answers.
Since Florida Governor Ron. DeSantis signed the “Combating Public Disorder” act into law this past April, civil liberties groups across the country have questioned its constitutionality. Now, two separate groups have sought to challenge the law in federal court.
Two elementary school students in Ardmore, Oklahoma were pulled from their public school classrooms for wearing “Black Lives Matters” t-shirts,” reports The New York Times. Such action likely violates the First Amendment, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision protecting student-initiated expression in the public schools—Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969).
The case against Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson will be sent back to the Fifth Circuit for further review. A Louisiana officer claims Mckesson should be held liable for an injury caused by the actions of an anonymous protester, even though he had no involvement in the crime.
The 21-year-old claims he is being singled out because of his political beliefs, and that students who wrote posts advocating for violence against police officers were not punished. Though the First Amendment generally protects public university student's right to express themselves online, experts say the extent of those protections may be different in the context of military institutions.
The lawsuit claims that the filming of demonstrators violates a state law that prohibits collecting information about the political, religious, or social views of an individual or group who are not suspected of criminal activity. The practice could also discourage protesters from attending demonstrations to avoid state surveillance.