In a gross attack on the First Amendment, a police officer told Infowars reporters and crew yesterday that they could not film a wastewater plant from across a public street.
The officer said that he had the “authority” to stop them from filming even though he admitted that it was not illegal to film the the Hyperion sewage treatment plant in Los Angeles, California.
“There’s no law, but like I said, based on the fact that it is a critical site, your activity is being deemed suspicious so we have the authority,” he said.
This is a perfect example of how police officers routinely use the “color of law” to deprive journalists of their First Amendment right to publicly film and cover news stories.
They use their “authority” to intimate reporters even though that authority runs contrary to basic human rights and the law.
The right to film in public has been affirmed time and time again by the U.S. Supreme Court and several federal Appeals Courts, which have all ruled that everyone – not just journalists – has an individual right to film (video, audio, photography, etc.) in public because there is “no expectation of privacy” in a public place.
In 2011, the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unambiguously that the First Amendment recognizes this right.
“It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws ‘abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,’ and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information,” Circuit Judge Kermit Lipez wrote in the court’s opinion.
Additionally, in 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that a Illinois law which prevented citizens from filming police was unconstitutional.