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The Right to Film Cops Comes Into Question

A federal judge has ruled that civilians actually have no constitutional protection to do so, except under specific (and subjective) circumstances.
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REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Despite what the ACLU has long advised, you do not have the right to take photos or record videos of cops—except when you’re planning to actively challenge police activity with the images. This is what U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney has ruled in a case involving two Philadelphia residents suing city police for using excessive force against them. The two plaintiffs, Richard Fields and Amanda Geraci, both had their cameras taken by police while they observed and filmed the officers’ actions, and both filed suit claiming this was a violation of their constitutional rights.

But neither had a protected right to film police to begin with, according to Kearney’s February 19 ruling. Wrote the judge: