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Posts tagged ‘civil rights’

1
Sep

Illinois Man Faces 75 Years in Prison for Recording Police

From BoingBoing: “42-year-old Michael Allison of Illinois could spend the rest of his life in prison for recording police in public. He faces five counts of eavesdropping, a class one felony”. That’s the equivalent of rape.

This is absolutely crazy. How law-abiding and tax-paying citizens (who pay for the police) can be harassed for wanting to make on-duty police officers accountable for their actions is beyond understanding. All one has to do is look at the sheer quantity of illegal police behaviour (and more), to see why the free recording of police officers is so absolutely necessary; both for the public’s protection and sometimes the police officers’.

The definition of eavesdropping is “to listen secretly to the private conversation of others”, in this case the police not only knew they were being recorded (edit: allegedly, if recent reports are true, officers were NOT aware they were being recorded, which is what landed Allison in hot water), but it was a conversation between them and Michael Allison. If police officers are allowed to record audio or video of the public with impunity, the public should be allowed to record the police going about their official duties. 75 years for recording on-duty police officers doesn’t even pass the guffaw test for me, a sensible jury will never convict him, if this ever even goes to court – END OF STORY.

[Updated 7/9/11] If recent reports are true, Michael Allison may also have been stupid as well as unlucky. Apparently he covertly recorded court proceedings (which is definitely illegal), and then lied about it to the judge (also illegal), which is how he ended up with all the additional counts of eavesdropping.

Watch the video below for the full story, it’s a great summary.

In a related story where a man was arrested for filming police in Massachusetts, a federal court ruled that videotaping police is an unambiguous and constitutionally protected right.

3
Mar

The Slippery Slope of Civil and Human Rights at Toronto’s G20 Protests

Every year, representatives from the G20 (top 20 economic countries) get together to discuss issues pertaining to international finance. Every year, people from all political and sociological beliefs get together to protest (most of them peacefully) for their particular cause. Last year, at Toronto’s G20 summit in June 2010, it all went horribly wrong; and for the first time that I can remember, a developed and democratic western country revealed just how easily civil and human rights can be swept away, and police be used to control innocent civilians.

The video below, entitled Under Occupation, provides real and shocking accounts of the events that transpired that week. Watch it.

6
Feb

The Importance of Freedom

After re-watching V for Vendetta which, on a side-note, is an excellent movie, I was struck by how topical the story was with regards to events of the past few months, from Wikileaks’ Cablegate to the ongoing Egyptian Revolution. This inspired me to throw together the image above.

Although the message is probably painfully clear to the Egyptian people, it is important that we, in the so-called ‘developed’ world, not forget that the unchallenged erosion of civil liberties, and other freedoms that we take for granted, could rapidly make this message ring true for us as well.

31
Jan

Phil Mocek Acquitted on TSA’s No-ID and Recording Charges

In November 2009, Phil Mocek (@pmocek) was arrested by Albuquerque Police at Albuquerque Airport for not providing a piece of identification, and recording the TSA process on camera (video below). In the US, one’s right to fly is guaranteed by Federal Laws and the Constitution, and as long as you do not break any other laws, local or state police cannot legally prevent you from flying.

Mocek was charged with things like criminal trespass, refusing to obey an officer, concealing his identity, and disorderly conduct. On 21 January 2011, he was acquitted on all charges by a jury without the defense having to call any witnesses or provide any evidence. The prosecution’s case simply did not stand up.

In a previous court case against another man who refused to show ID, the TSA admitted that there is actually no law that requires travelers to present ID in order to be able to fly. In the US, it is also perfectly legal to record video in public areas of the airport, despite what signs, staff or police may claim.

This case is reminiscent of John Tyner, who was thrown out of San Diego Airport for refusing the new TSA (grope) patdown. Note that you may want to familiarise yourself with the relevant laws regarding ID and recording in your own country.

Full details are available here. Well done to Phil for protecting his rights, and in the process, all of ours as well. Speaking of TSA security measures, I thought this recent Dilbert comic was particularly fitting.

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