A bill proposed in Florida, which is receiving widespread support from police, House Bill 11, filed by Rep. Alex Rizo, (R-Hialeah), could be yet another massive blow to your right to film the police.
According to the bill, anyone who is “hindering” law enforcement in their duties, which could include filming them with a cellphone, could be arrested, fined, and even imprisoned.
The loosely written language of the bill allows for rife abuse left up to the officer’s scope of discretion. According to the bill:
Approaching a law enforcement officer after a warning with intent to impede, provoke, or harass.— (1) As used in this section, the term “law enforcement officer” has the same meaning as in s. 943.10(1). (2)(a) It is unlawful for any person, after receiving a warning from a law enforcement officer not to approach, to violate such warning and approach or remain within 30 feet of a law enforcement officer who is engaged in the lawful performance of any legal duty with the intent to:
1. Interrupt, disrupt, hinder, impede, or interfere with the law enforcement officer’s ability to perform such duty;
2. Provoke a physical response from the law enforcement officer; or
3. Directly or indirectly harass the law enforcement officer.
(b) A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 31 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Think about every police brutality video you have seen in which the person filming or bystander begs the officer to “stop beating him” or saying, “he didn’t do anything,” and consider the language in the bill above.
Telling officer Derek Chauvin to stop beating George Floyd easily could have been interpreted by the officers as an attempt to “interrupt, disrupt, hinder, impede, or interfere.”
What’s more the people who filmed Chauvin kill Floyd were much closer than 30 feet, which would have made all of them criminals according to this legislation.
“I think they are trying to hide something, like you don’t want people recording. Why, if you not doing nothing wrong?” Fort Lauderdale resident, Dushont Morrison told Local 10 when asked about this bill.
But those who support the bill claim it’s to protect cops from attacks.
Rod Skirvin, President of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association told Local 10, “I don’t think that there is any problem with recording the police. I think everyone should be able to do that, but I don’t think you should get in their face to do it,” he said.
But cops, especially in Florida have a really rough time allowing people to film them. Just this week, we reported on the case of Khalid Vaughn, 28, of New York who took out his phone in a hotel lobby to film a whopping 21 cops beating a compliant man.
After the massive gang of cops had their victim, Dalonta Crudup, 24, lying in a pool of his own blood, they turned their attention to Vaughn and did the same thing to him. He did nothing but film them. He was then charged and arrested.
Though Vaughn’s charges were later dropped, if House Bill 11 was in place, they likely would not have been dropped and this innocent man could still be in jail right now — for filming police.
Filming the police, as the Free Thought Project has stated over the years, is a major tool in holding violent and killer cops accountable.
George Floyd, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Alexander Gonzales, Walter Scott. and countless others all have one thing in common — their last moments alive were captured on cellphone videos as police killed them. These videos and others like them led to charges against those involved, with some of them putting killer cops in jail for a long time.
Not only did these videos lead to charges against cops but they showed the world the reality of police many interactions and how the escalation of force can and will result in the death of those accused of petty offenses.
As TFTP has reported, it has been clearly established multiple times that all Americans have the right to record the police. For an officer or officers of the law to remain willingly ignorant of this precedent is at best, dereliction of duty, and at worst, unlawful deprivation of rights. Nevertheless, it happens all the time and laws like this will only serve to make the problem worse.
Without citizen video, the country would still be in the dark about the nature of police violence in the land of the free and thanks to bills like this one, we could possibly revert back to that darkness.