Frequent readers of the Free Thought Project know that filming the cops is not a crime. Despite this being a widely known provision — held up with multiple court precedents — cops continue to violate the First Amendment protected right of citizens to film the police. Earlier this year, the Arizona House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would criminalize filming cops on the job, dealing a massive blow to First Amendment rights. The following month, the Senate passed it, and on Wednesday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed it into law.
On Sept. 24 it will be illegal to record the police in Arizona within an 8-foot distance.
Republican Representative John Kavanaugh, who is a former police officer, was the lead sponsor of the legislation. According to the new law, it is illegal “for a person to knowingly make a video recording of law enforcement activity, including the handling of an emotionally disturbed person, if the person does not have the permission of the law enforcement officer” and is within 8 feet of the cop.
Kavanaugh originally stipulated a 15 foot radius, however it was later amended after multiple objections. But for many, this is still too far.
As Valera Voce, points out, the law also classifies unlawful video recording of law enforcement activity as a petty offense, unless a person fails to comply with a verbal warning of a violation or has been previously convicted of a violation in which case an offense is a class 3 misdemeanor. A class 3 misdemeanor comes with a minimum of 30 days in jail. Finally, the bill explicitly declares that it “does not establish a right, or authorize any person, to make a video recording of a law enforcement officer.”
“It’s crazy thinking about that for a second. The video that led to the criminal conviction of the police officer who killed George Floyd would itself be a criminal act. And that makes no sense whatsoever,” attorney Dan Barr told FOX 10.