Artist Facing 15 Years In Jail For The Crime Of Videotaping His Own Arrest

from the this-is-a-problem dept

Yesterday, we wrote about a woman who was facing 15 years in jail for using her cameraphone to videotape part of her effort to get Internal Affairs of the Chicago Police Department to investigate an officer, whom she claims sexually assaulted her. Apparently, this sort of situation is not unique in Illinois. Another story this week tells about an artist who set out to do a reasonable bit of civil disobedience: to protest a Chicago ordinance concerning where and when he could sell artwork on the street. He intended to get arrested for that misdemeanor by selling his art. As part of this, he had a First Amendment lawyer with him... and a video crew. Well, he did get arrested, but not for the misdemeanor of selling artwork in the wrong spot, but for the same felony of eavesdropping and is facing the same 15 years in prison as the woman we spoke about yesterday. Apparently, a big part of the problem is Illinois' Eavesdropping Act, which seems to create this ridiculous situation. Of course, the fact that prosecutors are actually moving forward with charges on such things is equally ridiculous. It's a good reminder of a reason to stay away from Chicago.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:24am

    As a citizen of Illinois, I'm amused and depressed by the irony of the most corrupt state in the Union having such a law.

     

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  2.  
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    Seth, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Eavesdropping

    Can it really be considered eavesdropping when you have a film crew?

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Re: Eavesdropping

    "Can it really be considered eavesdropping when you have a film crew?"

    Under stupid IL law it sure can. They're twisting this to suggest that any LEO that doesn't expressly grant permission to be taped has an expectation of privacy. Of a public enforcement officer. In public.

    This state sucks. Our governors are crazy corrupt and our lead mayoral candidate isn't allowed on the ballot....

     

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  4.  
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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    I don't think this goes far enough. You shouldn't be allowed to talk to a police officer without permission. You also shouldn't be allowed to look at them cross-eyed. After all, how can they protect you if they're busy talking to you, or wondering what you're thinking?

    I think the windy city is blowing it.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    "Won't somebody please think of the artists!"

     

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  6.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Just to be fair, 12 states (IIRC) have laws that require all parties to give consent to be recorded. Of those 12, two of them (Illinois and Massachusetts, aka yours and mine) have no exception to this rule when there is no expectation of privacy, aka, in public.

    One of them, MA I think, actually had it in the law and took it out.

    So, rest assured, your state isn't alone in sucking... and yours, at least, has better pizza.

    This is a good place to start if you want to know more.

     

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  7.  
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    MrWilson, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Remember kids, no videotaping or flash photography is allowed at the Emperor's parade!

    We don't want a permanent record of what he was (or wasn't) wearing to exist.

     

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  8.  
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    Anon, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Sweet Home Chicago

    As a lifelong Chicagoan (yes, I ask myself why all the time), this is almost nothing.

     

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  9.  
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    David Liu (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 10:57am

    From the article:
    "The Chicago Police, he said, have been expanding their recordings of ordinary civilians, with blue-light cameras, cameras in patrol cars, and the like. The justification for these recordings is that what happens in public is public, and there should be no expectation of privacy."

    If that's true, there's a massive double standard going on here. That just really pisses me off.

     

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  10.  
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    someone (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:05am

    Who watches the watchmen?

    In Illinois and other states with such dumb laws apparently no one.

     

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  11.  
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    Pixelation, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    It is now a crime to watch the watchmen.

     

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  12.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    We're arresting you for eavesdropping our attempt to arrest you for eavesdropping!

     

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  13.  
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    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Wow, that article paints an even more disturbing picture of the situation. I honestly can't understand why anyone would support or be in favor of a police officer or judge acting in such a childish and counterproductive manner.

    “Let me just say that as a matter of policy I think it’s ludicrous that people would be arrested for recording a police officer,” adds Volokh.

    Pretty much sums it up.

    The only encouraging thing about all this is that at least some of these situations are getting a little bit of national attention. Maybe a positive trend is possible.

     

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  14.  
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    John Doe, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    I think you answered your own question. They have such a law to prevent people from finding out what is going on in the government of Chicago and Illinois.

     

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Grain of salt.

    As part of this, he had a First Amendment lawyer with him... and a video crew.

    The article implies that these actions were taken the first and second attempt at getting arrested, but both times he was let off with a warning. This was his third attempt. I know I read it somewhere that he had a small recording device in his jacket-- not a film crew on hand-- and that's what got him in trouble. Of course, I can't for the life of me find where I read that, so take it with a grain of salt.

     

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  16.  
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    John Doe, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    "Our governors are crazy corrupt and our lead mayoral candidate isn't allowed on the ballot...."

    Don't you think it might have something to do with him not actually being a citizen? Or are you suggesting the law be broken for him?

     

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  17.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    No, this is the best quote from the article I linked:

    I ask Pasco if he believes someone like Michael Allison should go to prison, potentially for the rest of his life. "I don't know anything about that case," Pasco replies, "but generally it sounds like a sensible law and a sensible punishment. Police officers don’t check their civil rights at the station house door."

    "That just doesn’t sound right," Allison says. "My civil rights are supposed to protect me from the government. When a police officer is on the job, he’s part of the government. So [Pasco] is trying to say the government has civil rights to protect it from the people? That doesn’t make any sense to me."

     

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  18.  
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    spartacus_videographer, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    appropriate response

    This demands a call to action. All owners of video-capable cameras in Chicago should take every opportunity to get in the face of police and public officials, cameras visible and running, and demand to be arrested and charged under the same laws. The courts will be clogged, juries will have to be empaneled, and this stupid, corrosive and corrupt law will have to be stricken, either by act of legislature or by precedent of jurisprudence.

    I am calling for direct illegal action on the part of all citizens subject to laws which prohibit video or audio recording of police or other public officials in the performance of their duties in public or publicly-owned places. If the enforcers of the law cannot be subject to the same laws as we who pay them, then it is our duty to effect change by whatever means are available to us.

     

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  19.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re:

    uh, corruption in Illinois runs deep and has for well over a hundred years now.

    You didn't think Mark Kirk actually got legitimately, elected, do you?

    Illinois motto has always been "vote early, vote often". You don't hear of people going back to validate vote challenges out here for a reason.

     

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  20.  
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    Greg G, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re:

    Agreed. Wow. I think I'd carry that quote around with me if I were trying to sell art on the street and I videotape myself being arrested.

    Whatever lawyer he gets to defend him better break out that quote at the arraignment (and hope the judge isn't as dumb as that law, or paid off.. ha!)

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:31am

    15?

    I might be able to understand someone getting in trouble for eavesdropping, but 15 YEAR?!?!?! Better put them in with murder's before they hurt someone's pride again.

     

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  22.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    "Don't you think it might have something to do with him not actually being a citizen? Or are you suggesting the law be broken for him?"

    I'm suggesting that it's insane to tell a person who has been paying Chicago/IL taxes for the last two years, who HAS a home in Chicago, and who only was out of town so much because the freakin' PotUSA asked him to perform a public service that he can't run for elected office in his home city.

    BTW, only 1 court out of 3 so far has said he can't be on the ballot. Other courts agreed with me, and the fight isn't yet over.

    Christ. And I wouldn't even VOTE for the guy....

     

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  23.  
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    John Doe, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Why does it matter who asked him to move or why they asked him to move? So if his mother asked him to move out of state, would that be a valid excuse?

    He moved to DC with his family for 2 years and rented out his home. His private home became a rental home. For tax or any other purposes, he would not be considered a resident and neither would you.

    So no, I am not a fan of breaking the law for him or anyone else.

     

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  24.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Illinois motto has always been "vote early, vote often". You don't hear of people going back to validate vote challenges out here for a reason."

    Interestingly, one can look towards the election of JFK for evidence of that. Old man Daley really pulled a doozy in essentially getting him elected President....

     

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  25.  
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    V, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:40am

    Disclaimer notices

    Citizens should begin wearing contracts on their shirts:

    "By arresting me, you give up any expectation of privacy and agree to allow recording of both voice and video by myself, designated agent."

     

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  26.  
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    known coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:43am

    If i were to say, it is people who make laws like these, need to have the implied threat of the second amendment taken out on them, i too would go to jail.

    So i will not say that.

     

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  27.  
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    crade (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:44am

    Re: 15?

    I can understand someone getting in trouble for eavesdropping, but videotaping something that happened to you on a public street is not eavesdropping by any stretch of the imagination.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    So you're saying that a member of the military that has been shipped elsewhere to serve his country should not have the right to vote or run for office when he comes back?

     

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  29.  
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    John Doe, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    I did not realize Rahm was a member of the military. Nice attempt at a strawman though.

     

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  30.  
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    Michael, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:52am

    The Problem:

    If citizens aren't given a just means in which to hold the government and its agents to account, they are forced to use unjust means. IE: BANG.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Not member of the military, but still serving his country voluntarily. A rifle and BDU's don't give you special dispensation.

     

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  32.  
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    crade (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Don't they have security cameras in that state?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    It seems it is getting only a little bit of national attention.

    And a lot of folks are going to hear about this artist and not care because (in their opinion) he's just a crazy old hippie.

    Tiawanda Moore is more sympathetic being an alleged victim of sexual harassment, but she is a former stripper and she sounds black (so a number of people will think she's lying - not saying that's justified. I think it's what some people will think.)

    15 years is ridiculous though especially considering that in both of these cases there is no victim.

    Whether or not these people are technically guilty under this law if I were on the jury I would exercise jury nullification.

    I predict acquittal for Moore (I believe the NYT mentioned an exception if you had "reasonable suspicion" that a crime was about to be committed by the cops) and that the artist will be found guilty but receive no time.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Residency requirements for holding public office assure at least the possibility of familiarity of the candidates with current issues of public debate and concern, and no matter why a person has established residency elsewhere, be it military or other public service or simple choice, it is entirely appropriate for any person without CURRENT residency to be barred from running for office until residency is re-established.

     

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  35.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    "I did not realize Rahm was a member of the military. Nice attempt at a strawman though."

    Well, he may not have a commission but the only reason he was in DC was because he was serving the Executive branch of the govt. And it's interesting you should use the word strawman so quickly after comparing being called upon by the highest office in the land....to being called upon by his mother.

    Who you crappin'?

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Eavesdropping

    Seems like we had a Senator from the great state of Illinois recently got elected to some prominent position in this great Country of ours.

     

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  37.  
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    John Doe, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    No strawmen in my argument, just pointing out the fact that because he was called out of state by some party or another doesn't matter. If the law wanted to allow for that, it would have. It doesn't so too late. Change the law for next time, but this time it is too late.

    But hey, maybe you don't like for the Government to go by the law. I guess you are in the right place for that then.

     

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  38.  
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    John Doe, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Like I said below, if the law doesn't allow for government service, then it doesn't allow for it. Change the law for next election if you like, but there is no excuse for breaking the law for this election.

     

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  39.  
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    fthepigs, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Don't fight the power

    Do as Ice Cube says in a Public Enemy song: Don't fight the power, just shoot the mother fucker. Illinois is a shithole state with a history of corruption. It's no surprise that the pigs there got the laws changed to make it illegal to videotape them, this is the first part of a long path in taking away rights of US citizens. This sounds like something out of North Korea, not Illinois. the pigs should be ashamed.

     

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  40.  
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    crade (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Don't fight the power

    The first part? Have you been living under a rock?

     

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  41.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    The problem is, up until now, it's never gone to trial. Now we have at least two people, perhaps 3, willing to chance having a felony on their record to spread light on a bad law.

    I am ashamed to admit that I wouldn't have the courage to do so myself.

     

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  42.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    The law does allow for government service, the question revolves around whether or not he can say a rented home that he owns can be considered a place of residence.

     

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  43.  
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    Ben, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

    The pigs don't want a record of murder & mayhem!

    Don't live in Illinois, don't visit Chicago, don't participate in any financial transaction with an Illinois based company, use your only remaining right, the right to not participate!

     

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  44.  
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    PlagueSD, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Eavesdropping

    So wait...if I get arrested and they use video evidence of a "dash cam" in a patrol car without my consent, is the police officer in violation of the same law?

     

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  45.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    Welcome my son.... welcome to the machine.

    (aka police state)

     

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  46.  
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    bjupton, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Don't fight the power

    Ice Cube? Not a member of Public Enemy.

    Chuck D.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

    Those prosecutors need to be fired.

     

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  48.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    Hmm...

    I wonder what would happen if you were to say you were filming a mockumentary on corruption in Illinois?

     

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  49.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 3:24pm

    Weird confluence of issues in this thread...

    Rahm Emanuel was shaking hands at my el stop this evening. I shook his hand and said hello. Pics or it didn't happen?

    That's the funny part. We were surrounded by men with expensive tv or video cameras. They were in plain clothes and showed no visible credentials, yet they taped me w/o my permission. I should have whipped out the iPad and pulled up this article....

     

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  50.  
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    Thomas (profile), Jan 25th, 2011 @ 5:37pm

    Not surprising..

    Massachusetts does the same thing. On one hand the police SAY want you to help you and then they turn around and screw you. And they still don't understand why people do not trust the police and are not willing to help them.

    If Rodney King had been beaten in Chicago there never would have been any prosecution of the cops since the people videotaping the action would have been themselves prosecuted and the DA would have been required to toss the evidence out since it was obtained illegally.

    It just goes to show that state governments are far more concerned with their image than actually protecting citizens.

     

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  51.  
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    Jose_X, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    Re: Not surprising..

    >> And they still don't understand why people do not trust the police and are not willing to help them.

    There is going to keep being serious push back against restrictions on guns as long as the US allows police and the military to be so powerful and aggressive.

     

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  52.  
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    Jose_X, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 6:44am

    No due process possible

    You can't claim due process was accomplished if the courts don't take the defendants word at face value yet won't allow the creation of material that would have gone far is corroborating defendant's testimony.

     

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  53.  
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    Jose_X, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 6:51am

    Re: No due process possible

    Oops, I forgot that taping is allowed if you are being arrested (that is an exception clause in that law). Maybe you have to be arrested for something else, but then that is rather silly.

    Also, I wonder if you had the cameras on but was not actually recording and they arrested you. How could they do so reasonably? Having the camera out cocked and ready is not illegal and would be done for efficiency's sake as well as a deterrent to crime. To arrest on suspicion of filming officers undermines that entire reasonable defensive scenario (to a stupid law).

     

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  54.  
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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Also, I believe the punishment is more severe for recording an officer than an ordinary citizen. So an officer, and therefore the government, has MORE civil rights protection than it's citizens.

     

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  55.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    But hey, maybe you don't like for the Government to go by the law. I guess you are in the right place for that then.

    Wow, the straw is flying.

    So now everyone here that reads Techdirt agrees that the Government doesn't need to follow the law? Or does that mean that since DH is from Illinois, he is in the right place to believe that the Government doesn't need to follow the law?

    If it is the former...I'd like to see your evidence, since there are a lot of us here and I doubt you'll be able to prove that all of us believe the same thing.

     

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  56.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:38am

    Re:

    We're arresting you for eavesdropping our attempt to arrest you for eavesdropping!

    Wow, infinite recursion. Awesome.

    print "We're arresting you for evesdropping!";
    while (1) {
    print "We're arresting you for evesdropping during our arresting you for evesdropping!";
    }

     

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  57.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Not surprising..

    There is going to keep being serious push back against restrictions on guns as long as the US allows police and the military to be so powerful and aggressive.

    Yes, but to add further fire to this argument, Chicago is very much anti-gun (as is California, Washington DC, and Massachusetts.) Not that there is a correlation between corrupt politicians and gun control, but it seems a little suspicious.

     

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  58.  
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    Justin M. Kolenc, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 3:58am

    Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Hello?

    A police officer is a public servant. Public servants have no expectation of privacy, no automatic protection from the public. The bottom line is that, just as was the case for me in the military, once you put on the uniform of a public servant, you are subject to such scrutiny. This is why newspapers will print "Officer Such and Such" rather than "an unnamed officer." The police officer has no standing.

     

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  59.  
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    Thomas (profile), Jan 30th, 2011 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: No due process possible

    Police officers can videotape you via their dash cams and cameras in police stations. That is well accepted by the courts. However, in the case of the dash cam, the police can always manage to "lose" the recording if it shows them doing something they shouldn't be doing. The courts know this and don't really care because they want to be on the side of the cops. But if YOU try to record the police doing something improper (at least in Mass) you can be prosecuted. This way if you happen to record the police going dragging someone out of a car and beating him with clubs or whatever then YOU cam be arrested and your tape won't be accepted in court since it was obtained illegally and the police will not be prosecuted since there is no legal video evidence showing it.

    And the police still wonder why we don't trust them.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 6:27pm

    Re: Re: Eavesdropping

    Man facing 75 years in prison for audio recording public servants in Illinois. Perhaps some people could come help us in Illinois. Planning demonstration 2-17-2011 @9am Crawford County Courthouse, Robinson Illinois. Defendant has court at 2:15 that same day. This case is not getting near the media attention it needs. I have spoke with the Defendant on the phone and he would appreciate any support he can get.

    Here are a couple of links about the case:

    http://www.alternet.org/rights/149706/75-year_prison_sentence_for_taping_the_police_the_abs urd_laws_that_criminalize_audio_and_video_recording_in_america

    http://reason.com/archives/2010/12 /07/the-war-on-cameras

    If interested or anyone you know that might be, please post a quick reply back. Thanks

     

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