Florida Rep. Alex Rizo (R-Hialeah) introduced a bill to the Florida legislature that would make it a second-degree misdemeanor for someone to “disrupt, hinder, impede, or interfere" with law enforcement officers while they are performing official duties. While the bill does not explicitly mention the act of cellphone recording, its langauge would give police wide discretion to arrest individuals who they perceive are impeding their activities.
Join First Amendment Watch at New York University and the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a conversation about how reporters, photographers, and editors should weigh their responsibility to report on public matters balanced against ethical concerns such as the privacy and safety of their subjects.
A reporter for Asbury Park Press is suing the city of Belmar, New Jersey and several police officers for assaulting and arresting him during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 1st. Filed on July 13th in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the complaint alleges that reporter Gustavo Martínez was “unlawfully tackled, arrested, detained and jailed by law enforcement."
The legislation affirms the right of individuals to record law enforcement activity, and to keep their recordings. The law goes into effect in 30 days.
“To allow automatic warrantless seizures of bystanders’ cell phones containing recordings of police interactions without any evidence of exigency would deeply chill the First Amendment right to record, as the public simply would not exercise this constitutional right out of fear that doing so would authorize law enforcement to seize one’s phone and hold it indefinitely,” the complaint reads.