Ferguson, Mo., police agree: Everyone can film us

The ACLU in Missouri meets with authorities to clarify the First Amendment right of anyone to film the police, as long as those filming aren't obstructive.

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Capt. Ron Johnson, who has been credited with helping reduce tensions. CNN/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk

Now it's clear.

For the past week, those protesting a police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man, Michael Brown, wanted to film or photograph the police, often with cell phones.

After journalists and members of the public were ordered by some police officers in Ferguson, Mo., to stop filming, some wondered whether First Amendment rights were being flouted.

As the situation has calmed a little, but not completely, the ACLU in Missouri met with the Highway Patrol (which is now in charge of security in Ferguson), as well as with the city of Ferguson and the St. Louis County government.

As Politico reports, there was agreement that -- as legal experts attest -- everyone has the right to film the police in the course of their duty, as long as those filming are not obstructing the police.

The ACLU had brought a case against the authorities on behalf of journalist Mustafa Hussein, who works for the Argus Media Group.

It alleged that police ordered him to stop filming. He, asserting his First Amendment rights, continued to film.

After incidents in which police officers have been filmed on cell phones performing their duties in a questionable manner, police forces across America have been reinforcing to their officers that the right to film is, indeed, a First Amendment right.

In Ferguson, there will be a little relief that this has been expressly stated.

 

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