Yesterday I posted about a Washington Post article talking about the police questioning people for taking pictures of federal buildings and landmarks. Now we have another extreme:
The ACLU of Maryland is defending Anthony Graber, who potentially faces sixteen years in prison if found guilty of violating state wiretap laws because he recorded video of an officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop. In a trend that we’ve seen across the country, police have become increasingly hostile to bystanders recording their actions. You can read some examples here, here and here.
However, the scale of the Maryland State Police reaction to Anthony Graber’s video is unprecedented. Once they learned of the video on YouTube, Graber’s parents house was raided, searched, and four of his computers were confiscated. Graber was arrested, booked and jailed. Their actions are a calculated method of intimidation. Another person has since been similarly charged under the same statute.
The wiretap law being used to charge Anthony Graber is intended to protect private communication between two parties. According to David Rocah, the ACLU attorney handling Mr. Graber’s case, “To charge Graber with violating the law, you would have to conclude that a police officer on a public road, wearing a badge and a uniform, performing his official duty, pulling someone over, somehow has a right to privacy when it comes to the conversation he has with the motorist.”
Here’s the video in question:
The ACLU has also posted a fact sheet (PDF) about this case.
When will this stop? When will our elected leaders realize we have a crisis in this country when it comes to the overreach of our law enforcement?
This issue goes to the heart of public safety and the public trust that must accompany it. Posting a video is the same as wiretapping? How absurd is that? Don’t wear a camera on your helmet, but hell, the government can sit there and tap the calls of millions without a search warrant.
If this keeps up this country will face an extremely dark time in our society. People will start viewing the police as the enemy and, as history has shown us, that never ends well.
It’s time for Congress to start looking at these issues and pass new laws to protect the citizens from ego driven police. It’s not just for the protection of the citizens, but also the protection of the true police officers out there, who believe in the job of “to protect and serve”.
Hopefully all the charges in this case get dropped and Mr. Graber ends up with a nice lawsuit against the State of Maryland and their police. Also this cop should be forced to the unemployment line. There are serious crimes going on out there. Worrying about petty crap like this is a waste of time and this officer is a waste of money for the taxpayers of Maryland.