In this news report from WTWO-TV in Terra Haute, Indiana, Michael Allison tells of his arrest on the felony charge of videotaping police officers without their consent, a non-violent "crime" for which he faces up to 75 years in prison, as much or more as he would face were he charged with rape or murder.
Watch the story.
You can also view the video on the WTWO-TV web site, but I have to warn you: the site is a little confusing. It doesn't show the call letters and has an ABC ad on the page, or did at time of this posting. To confirm this really is the WTWO web site, I scrolled to the bottom of the page and looked at their FCC filing reports.
Prosecutors appeal to IL Supreme Court after lower court throws case out
After a lower court judge ruled the law under which Mr. Allison was charged unconstitutional, reports WTWO, the Illinois prosecutors filed an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court. The appeal is pending.
As many as twelve states prohibit recording police officers
Illinois is not an isolated state in making the filming of police officers a felony. While police officers, municipalities, counties, states and the federal government can and do film us everywhere we go, we, the people, are prohibited from recording police officers in as many as twelve states, according to the WTWO reporter.
While I could not verify that claim, I did find a number of articles that discuss such laws and incidences of arrest in several states. HotAir's Ed Morrisey reported on a few of those cases in Do police have a legitimate expectation of privacy in public performance of duty? (June 3, 2011). He concludes
Police do not have an expectation of privacy in their public encounters with the citizenry. In fact, they should have instead an expectation of public accountability for the performance of that work.
I agree. If we are to return to a free society, a world more like that in the Village of Ordinary, where mutual respect and peace prevail, we must hold our public officials, and especially our increasingly militarized police, accountable for their actions. It is imperative that we support those who are working to assure our civil liberties are maintained, and where already compromised, restored.
It's been a long time since I gave to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), those valiant and stalwart attorneys and advocates who champion our right to free speech and assembly, among many other Constitutional rights, year in and year out. I hadn't planned on doing so when I began writing this piece, but I am not taking them for granted any longer. Before hitting the "publish" button, I gave them some of the money I had planned to use on holiday gifts this year. My family and friends can do with smaller tokens of remembrance. Their freedom and liberty--and mine--matter more.
Who do you feel best champions our civil liberties and the freedoms we once took for granted? What plans, if any, do you have to support them at this time of year, when so many agencies and non-profits are asking for our assistance? What other steps do you feel we might take as individuals, and collectively, to assure our police, also known as officers of the peace, are held accountable for their actions?
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.