Thursday, April 12, 2012

Professional photojournalist files suit after he was arrested, harassed for filming police

Madison Ruppert, Contributor
Activist Post

Professional photojournalist Philip Datz has had a long and tumultuous history with the Suffolk County Police Department and finally Datz has moved to file a lawsuit against the County of Suffolk and Sergeant Michael Milton in the United States District Court, Eastern District, New York.

This is part of a much larger and thoroughly troubling trend of Americans being beaten, arrested and harassed for exercising their right to legally film police, which is just part of the growing American police state and the general erosion of our most essential liberties.

The lawsuit surrounds an incident on July 29, 2011, which was caught on film and has gained a considerable amount of notoriety for the clearly absurd actions of Sergeant Milton.

Watch the events below:


This event cannot be considered in isolation, because as Carlos Miller aptly points out, there were actually numerous incidents which preceded the above events of last year.

In 2009, Datz was told by a police officer that he was not allowed to record in Suffolk County because he had press credentials issued by Nassau County, which neighbors Suffolk.


Of course, in reality, press credentials are not legally required to film police in the course of their public duties in a public place from a distance while not being disruptive.

In the above video, we see Sergeant Milton forcibly grab Datz’s camera and put it on the ground, after which Datz was arrested.

Both the Suffolk County police commissioner and the Suffolk County State Attorney’s Office declared that the arrest was unlawful and Datz was not charged.

However, Datz continued to be harassed by the Suffolk County Police Department. This continued even after the department told the National Press Photographers Association that they were bringing in instructors from the FBI Academy to retrain their officers in the basics of Constitutional law and the rights of journalists.

According to the complaint filed on Datz’s behalf by his attorneys Robert Balin, Samuel Bayard, Alison Schary of Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, and Corey Stoughton of the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation on April 11, 2012 (which you can read in full below), there were no less than six separate incidents since his unlawful arrest.

Also joining Datz in his quest for justice is the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), which now uses Datz’s infamous video when they train police on how not to deal with videographers and photojournalists.

In every instance Datz brought his complaints to a public information officer, but according to the complaint nothing was ever done to help Datz resolve the situation.

“Suffolk County police officers have a pattern of unlawfully interfering with the recording of police activity conducted in public view,” according to the NPPA. “As a journalist, Mr. Datz has a responsibility to cover police activity in public places. The police department has a constitutional obligation to respect his First Amendment to perform this important public service.”

“It is disappointing that the number of these incidents seems to be increasing, necessitating legal action in this case,” said NPPA president Sean D. Elliot. “I’m also pleased that we are able to step-up and help defend our members when their rights are so egregiously infringed. It is my hope that this case can provide an incentive for more law enforcement agencies to take steps to ensure such incidents do not continue.”

“[Sergeant] Milton has become the poster child of things they [police officers] don’t want to do,” Mickey Osterreicher, the general counsel of the NPPA, said.

“I watch the officers’ reactions and they sit there with their mouths open and can’t believe he is saying those things. Not just saying those things but believing those things,” Osterreicher added.

Osterreicher regularly travels to police departments across the United States to teach police officers on the rights photographers have.

One of the most important parts of the lawsuit is that it is seeking “an injunctive relief to prevent police from keeping the press further back than the general public,” according to Osterreicher.

If their efforts prove successful, this would mean that the Suffolk County Police Department would have to face contempt of court charges if they continued to harass photographers and others exercising their Constitutional rights.

Hopefully Datz can ride the recent successes in this field to a victory which will make Suffolk County safer for those who are just doing their job or trying to hold police accountable.

Did I miss anything or would you like to submit some of your own original writing or perhaps send a story tip or some other information my way? Email me at Admin@EndtheLie.com  

Please support our work and help us start to pay contributors by doing your shopping through our Amazon link or check out some must-have products at our store.

This article first appeared at End the Lie.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on Orion Talk Radio from 8 pm -- 10 pm Pacific, which you can find HERE.  If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at admin@EndtheLie.com


BE THE CHANGE! PLEASE SHARE THIS USING THE TOOLS BELOW


BE THE CHANGE! PLEASE SHARE THIS USING THE TOOLS BELOW


If you enjoy our work, please donate to keep our website going.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another cop with a God complex! Lowlife scum!

Anonymous said...

this officer has the personality of a rabid dog, the IQ of a banana, along with his non existent communication skills, this makes him a menace to society. however on his behalf and to all law enforcement officers throughout the land that act like this, and treat the people that feed them with total disregard. I for one am willing to accept this behavior because of all the great work they have done keeping gangs out of our neighborhoods imagine how dangerous that job was for them to do. I accept this behavior also in appreciation for the cleaning up of crime in all of our communities, it is almost non exsitint everywhere thanks to these courageous officers in uniform. its a small price to pay a little abuse now and then to show our gratitude for all their great accomplishments. and whats the big deal if we have to give up our rights that these officers swore to protect so long as they keep us so safe and secure.

Anonymous said...

"and whats the big deal if we have to give up our rights that these officers swore to protect so long as they keep us so safe and secure."

I really hope you're not serious!

Anonymous said...

You are joking, right?

Where ...anywhere is it acceptable for anyone who does someone good in society to then use that position to ALSO do something bad?

That doesn't make sense. Are you also trying to tell us all that because the Church does some good things that it is all right for their hierarchy to abuse young children?

I mean really? This is the rationale of a child, who is requiring a parent with a brain that is working.

One of the Last True Patriots said...

@ Anonymous Apr 12, 2012 11:24 AM:

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." Benjamin Franklin

How is it safe for the American citizens if we are forced to keep on giving up our Constitutional rights more and more every day? You must really enjoy being told what to do and how to do it! I perfer to be be free.....in both body & spirit.

One of the Last True Patriots said...

Wait.....what?! @ Anonymous Apr 12, 2012 11:24 AM:

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." Benjamin Franklin

The day that we American citizens give up our rights is the last day that we ever will have anything left to us at all. I think that it is important to fight to keep our liberties, because we will be forgotten when we no longer have them. Wake up all of you sheeple!

Anonymous said...

I see nothing wrong, except the dumb ass snooping around with his camera.

Mack531 said...

Overlook breaking the law to enforce the law? You can see the dilemma here, right? Who determines what laws are okay to bend or break to stop crime? Talk about having the "IQ of a banana"! Abuse of power under color of law was one of the reasons our founders came here and started a new society, you nitwit! Maybe you should pay more attention to what is happening in Syria, because that is the end result of this kind of thinking.

Anonymous said...

"I see nothing wrong, except the dumb ass snooping around with his camera."

Well, of course! Anyone who dares expose the truth in an unbiased manner should be indefinitely locked up without benefit of a trial. It's the American way. That will teach ALL the dumb asses they had better not own or use a camera.

Right? It's the American way, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

"I for one am willing to accept this behavior because of all the great work they have done keeping gangs out of our neighborhoods imagine how dangerous that job was for them to do.

Hey guys & gals... news release: I believe this is what was used to be known as... here it comes... SARCASM!

Yes... I know, I know... being products of the American school system, reading comprehension was probably not high among the institution's priorities.

But still, at least give it an attempt to read between the lines now and then, OK mates?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the new "Amerikan reality"! The Nazis are green with envy.

Anonymous said...

Sue the pants off them. Each and every single one of them. Brake their backs and their ballz.

Gary Don Oliver said...

In my experience the worst criminals in our degenerating economy are the cops. These days cops are hired to make a profit for the government, any way they can, and get rid of those that don’t produce for the government. All governments have become the Godzilla of old Japanese movies. Cops don't need to use phony radar guns in Oregon to steal from a motorist. They just completely fabricate a charge then commit perjury in court. The conspiring judge will make sure there were no witnesses in the vehicle before their complicity in the theft. It doesn't even matter that a charge completely violates the laws of physics. Oregon cops will issue a completely bogus traffic cite, then commit perjury with the most ridiculous impossible lies in court and the judges convict anyway, as if it were a conspiracy. I know. It happened to me in Oregon. IN OREGON, DON’T DRIVE IN YOUR VEHICLE ALONE. If you want to know why, read the posts on: facebook.com/garydonoliver. That is the reason cops don’t want to be filmed. It cuts into their take from theft, and exposes their level of insanity.

Desi said...

Interesting rubric. Using a supposed photo journalist and a supposed mad-dog police officer to bind all photojournalists to areas the police designate for the 'public'.

In essence, tying all newsmen/women to zones contemplated and established at the whim of...officials breaking the law. And if said zones are several hundred feet or even yards from the scene...so much the better.

[seeking “an injunctive relief to prevent police from keeping the press further back than the general public,”]

Post a Comment