We’re starting to see more and more stories about law enforcement officials – both cops and prosecutors – abusing the law in order to hide their activities. The latest case in point is that of Felicia Laverene Gibson who was arrested and subsequently found guilty (though apparently not in a jury trial) of “resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer.”
What was Gibson doing? Oh, just what every TV station does all the time, and now that video cameras are built-in to phones and digital cameras, what everyone else does too – she was videotaping a traffic stop.
OK, fair enough. Cops can ask bystanders to move away. They understandably don’t want people crowding around them.
But Gibson wasn’t standing over the cop’s shoulder – she was standing on her nearby porch – with several other people who were not arrested. Here’s an edited version of the video – she’s obviously nowhere near the cops.
In Maryland, officials have used the state’s wiretapping laws in order to claim that police officers have an expectation of privacy when doing traffic stops and have tossed people in jail for taking videos with sound of their encounters with police.
Of course, these same police have dashboard cameras in their cars and are mic’d in their encounters with the public, but citizens apparently aren’t allowed the same rights.
The police, the prosecutors, the judges … they work for us.
The police, the prosecutors, the judges need to keep that in mind. If they forget, well, then you need to elect some public officials to remind them.