Chicago, IL -- In the land of the free, there are ostensible checks and balances which are in place to prevent corrupt and power drunk government officials from overstepping their authority and depriving people of their rights, especially for filming in public. The largest ostensible restraint on this power is the constitution. However, as TFTP has reported for years, despite the fact that police swear an oath to uphold this constitution, they are all too often the ones who ignore it.
As the following case illustrates, to many police officers, the oath they took to the constitution may as well be dog excrement that they scrape from the bottom of their boot. Furthermore, even though there is video evidence of this problem cop repeatedly violating that oath to the constitution by attacking people for filming, absolutely nothing has been done about it.
A disturbing video posted to Facebook from the 4th of July shows just how little many of these cops care about upholding an individual's right to film.
The video posted to Facebook by Anna Morentin shows Chicago police tasering her husband, Angel Ramirez, four times and pepper spraying him for recording an interaction between officers and passengers of a vehicle at a gas station.
As the video shows, Ramirez is doing nothing but simply recording an interaction between police and passengers in another vehicle.
Once he began recording, an officer approaches Ramirez and tells him to "back away."
"You're interfering with our crime scene. Back away," the officer says. But as the video appears to show, Ramirez is several feet away from the officers. Nevertheless, the officers approach him and physically attempt to push him back.
"Don't touch me," he says several times before the cops deploy tasers.
"You're making my kid cry," Morentin says as she and her children watch their father/husband get abused and kidnapped.
"Daddy!" one of Ramirez's children screams as they watch in horror.
"Why are you doing that to him?" a passenger asks.
"Are you recording the whole thing?"
"I'm recording everything," Morentin says.
"What was he doing? He was recording. He wasn't doing anything but recording," the passenger tells abusive cops as Ramirez lies on the ground in handcuffs.
"He was in our crime scene. We asked him to step away three times," an officer says.
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"He kept resisting."
"Record that sh**," Ramirez says to Morentin.
"They tased me four times."
Even after he was completely subdued and handcuffed, one of the officers is seen shaking a can a peeper spray before dousing the innocent father in the face with it.
When he gets up, Ramirez is having trouble breathing and asking police to please wipe off his face.
"That's f**ked up. We got kids in the car. We're not doing anything wrong, bro," the passenger says.
"When you're told to step back from an investigation, you step back," the officer answers back.
"It's called obstruction. That's why . . . Interference and obstruction," the officer says, explaining it's obstruction "because he resisted."
"All he was doing was recording," the witness responds.
Ramirez was reportedly arrested for obstructing.
Posted by Anna Morentin on Thursday, July 4, 2019
As TFTP has reported, it has been clearly established that all Americans have the right to record the police. For an officer of the law to remain willingly ignorant of this precedent is at best, dereliction of duty, and at worst, unlawful deprivation of rights. Either way, these cops were in the wrong.
As the ACLU points out,
Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right—and that includes transportation facilities, the outside of federal buildings, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.
Unfortunately, law enforcement officers have been known to ask people to stop taking photographs of public places. Those who fail to comply have sometimes been harassed, detained, and arrested. Other people have ended up in FBI databases for taking innocuous photographs of public places.
The right of citizens to record the police is a critical check and balance. It creates an independent record of what took place in a particular incident, one that is free from accusations of bias, lying, or faulty memory. It is no accident that some of the most high-profile cases of police misconduct have involved video and audio records.
When police refuse to have their public service documented and this refusal morphs into kidnapping and assault, something has gone seriously wrong. No one should ever face persecution for their first amendment rights—especially in the land of the free.