What have cops got against cameras these days? Increasingly, people are getting arrested, charged or even assaulted by police officers, merely for attempting to take photos or videos of officers at work. Often, police simply command people to stop photographing. Scared into thinking they must be breaking some law, citizens comply.
When Polish visitor Robert Dziekanski died after being tasered at the Vancouver airport in 2007, police seized the now famous video made by witness Paul Pritchard, who had to hire a lawyer and threaten court proceedings to get it back.
The American Civil Liberties Union has won numerous court cases against police who illegally harass photographers and videographers, but says nevertheless: “A continuing stream of incidents … makes it clear that the problem is not going away.”
The phenomenon struck close to home on August 2, 2012 when I got a phone call at 7:30 a.m. from my client Montana Jones telling me that numerous officers were at her farm with a search warrant. Ms. Jones is suspected of complicity in making 31 rare Shropshire sheep disappear from her farm before they could be seized and killed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on suspicion of disease. Incidentally, when 26 of the missing sheep were eventually found and killed two months later, all tested disease-free.