News from Boston: Exercising Your Civil Rights Isn’t Against the Law

by Miserere

Simon Glik video frame

     The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
    –Thomas Jefferson

In 2007 Simon Glik found himself witnessing police officers conducting an arrest in the Boston Common in the heart of the city. He thought they were using excessive force, as did other bystanders, so he took out his phone and recorded the arrest. He was being vigilant, and he paid a dear price for it when those same officers arrested him for “illegal wiretapping”, which is an offense in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. What happened later (a judge threw out the charges) you can read about here in detail. Although now a free man, Simon, who is a lawyer, wasn’t content, so he went after the police department by filing a civil rights suit.

Five years later the Boston police department has settled the suit to the tune of $170,000 in favour of Simon Glik. See this video by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts about the case:

I’m not a lawyer, I’m just someone who likes to use logic to solve problems, so bear with me while I take you through my mental process:

  • I pay taxes in the USA.
  • My tax money is used to fund public services.
  • Police departments are public services.
  • Hence, police officers are public servants.
  • Furthermore, I also have the right (even duty), granted by the First Amendment, to record any event taking place in a public space.

Because of all the above I logically deduce that I have the right to record a police officer in the act of duty in a public place.

Why does some poor guy have to be arrested and the American Civil Liberties Union get involved for common sense and justice to prevail? The police are not above the law, and we should all wonder, if they’re watching us, who’s watching them?

We are.

If you come across police behaving inappropriately, remember what Thomas Jefferson said. But think quickly because you’ll have an important decision to make.

Good light and good luck,

    —Miserere

Related posts:

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  4. Street Photography in Boston
  5. St Patrick’s Day 2012 in Boston

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