The City of Boston settled a lawsuit recently filed by Simon Glik, an attorney who was arrested in 2007 as he recorded police using force to subdue another man.
The settlement total came to $170,000, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts, which represented Glik in the case. He was initially charged with a felony, under laws meant to ban illegal wiretapping, but the charge was dismissed.
“The law had been clear for years that openly recording a video is not a crime. It’s sad that it takes so much for police to learn the laws they were supposed to know in the first place,” Glik said in an ACLU media advisory. “I hope Boston police officers will never again arrest someone for openly recording their public actions.”
The city has since initiated a training program for officers that teaches them to ignore individuals who film their activities in public. The two arresting officers in Glik’s case were also disciplined.
“The court’s opinion made clear that people cannot be arrested simply for documenting the actions of police officers in public,” Glik’s attorney, David Milton, added in the advisory. “With this issue squarely resolved against it, it made sense for the City to settle the case rather than continuing to waste taxpayer money defending it.”
Glik isn’t the only American to face arrest for recording police officers in public. Others have been taken into custody in states like Florida and Illinois. A federal jury in Oregon, as well, awarded minor damages to a man who was arrested for filming an officer in 2009.
“The First Amendment includes the freedom to observe and document the conduct of government officials, which is crucial to a democracy and a free society,” ACLU Massachusetts staff attorney Sarah Wunsch concluded in the advisory. “We hope that police departments across the country will draw the right conclusions from this case.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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