Police

Backlash Against Anthony Graber's Arrest

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The arrest of Maryland motorcyclist Anthony Graber is generating some considerable backlash against the state's law enforcement officials. Graber was arrested and is being charged with felonies for posting video to YouTube of a cop who pulled his gun on Graber during a traffic stop. I've written about Graber here and here, and I discussed the case on WBAL's Ron Smith show yesterday.

Cato's David Rittgers has posted his own analysis of how officials are misinterpreting the state's wiretapping law here. Rittgers also discussed the issue on D.C. NPR affiliate WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi show.

And in a somewhat odd pairing, anarchist writer Wendy McElroy's write-up of the issue was picked up by Gizmodo. That triggered a link and discussion thread at Slashdot.

It's good to see this issue picking up steam. As I said on Smith's show yesterday, there seems to be a big disconnect here between the general public's attitude on recording cops (the feedback I've received has been almost unanimous in support of ensuring that the practice is legal) and the attitudes of law enforcement officials (on-duty cops have a right to privacy) and politicians (generally a position of deference to law enforcement).

The issue is important not just in order to keep law enforcement transparent and accountable, but in that it raises fundamental questions about the nature of individual rights in a free society. The way Maryland officials are interpreting the state's wiretapping law, government agents—in this case on-duty cops—have privacy rights in public spaces that ordinary citizens don't. But state employees acting as state employees don't have rights. Citizens have rights. Governments and their employees have powers, and only to the extent that those powers have been delegated to them by the people they're governing.

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  1. Goose….gander…..

    yeah….if the Mofo’s can tape me during a traffic stop, I can tape them.

    Take it all the way to the Supreme Court Anthony.

    1. Take it all the way to the Supreme Court Anthony.

      it’s a shame he even has to take it to county court.

  2. politicians (generally a position of deference to law enforcement being tough on crime except when it’s cops doing the lawbreaking).

  3. How the fuck do cops (or any public employee) expect a “right to privacy” while on the job?

  4. I find it funny Chicago (and other) police don’t want to be subject to video all day at any moment. Richie Daley keeps telling us how 24/7 surveillance is great and we should be just like London. They should be embracing video and audiotaping whole heartedly.

  5. so if 2 cop cars from different jurisdictions show up facing each other with their dash cams on do they have to arrest each other? the law is the law.

    1. No, they play Hide the Nightstick with each other, and glaze each other’s donut. It’s not the law, but they do it just because.

      1. Epic Fail. Cruller. They glaze each other’s cruller. WTF.

        1. Thanks for the visual.

          1. Invoice in the mail!

          2. Hide the Nightstick

            Clicky at your own risky.

            1. OMG I thought I had potential on this board.

              It’s sad when you discover you got no shot.

              1. Nutrasweet is pretty much the shiznit.

              2. OMG I thought I had potential on this board.

                It’s sad when you discover you got no shot.

                Is this your first exposure to SF’s special talent? I would recommend never reading anything he writes, without a barf bag nearby.

                Reading Nutra-Sweet’s art is like watching the Jerry Springer show. Afterward, you feel better about yourself knowing that no matter how sick or depraved you might be, there is someone out there who is much, much worse.

            2. Goddamnit, I fall for it every time…”don’t click SugarFree’s links or you’ll be spirited away to another, disgusting world for minutes…”

              Every time. SF rules

          3. The visual is horrific, but the wording just rolls off the tongue; Glazing the Cruller. *shudder* Works every time.

            1. Is that the sequel to Gleaming the Cube?

  6. the attitudes of law enforcement officials (on-duty cops have a right to privacy)

    No, no they don’t. Sorry, you are a visible civil servant with absolute authority, in your mind. If you are in public then you are subject to being taped like anyone else. There has to be some limit to sovereign immunity.

    and politicians (generally a position of deference to law enforcement).

    It is this blind deference that is the other part of the problem. Out of sight, out of mind, right? RIGHT?

  7. But state employees acting as state employees don’t have rights. Citizens have rights. Governments and their employees have powers, and only to the extent that those powers have been delegated to them by the people they’re governing.

    What a quaint statement.

  8. ” A well regulated media being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to speech, shall not be infringed.”

  9. What is it with Maryland and the abusive five-oh???

    I hope the ACLU or some other group has stepped up to represent Mr. Graber or at least pay his legal fees. This ridiculous interpretation of the wiretap statute needs to be overturned ASAP. Maryland courts are generally above average on civil liberties issues, AFAIK, so there is still hope.

  10. Once a police office takes off his uniform and takes off his badge he has a right to privacy. While on duty however people have every right to record anything he does and post it on YouTube.

  11. Even if you don’t automatically distrust all LEO’s (either from personal experience or daily doses of Balko fair), how does one credibly justify the use of wiretap(dancing) laws against citizens recording police during the course of their job?

    I read some of the extensive commenting from the previous Balko post on this, and from what I could gather there was one or two who argued on the side of law enforcement officers (and I believe, at one point, in defense of the concept of enumerated rights) against the idea of a constitutional right to gather recorded evidence on police against their wishes, but was there any defense on why it’s appropriate for those people to suffer jail for doing so?

  12. Cops: Federal Bailout of the Donut Industry

  13. What a quaint statement.

    “Quaint” like a rotary phone or “quaint” like the Daughters of the Confederacy?

    Because they and Balko are cohabitants of the same lost Confederate city.

    And maybe two plus two is two times two, y’know?

    1. I’m intrigued, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  14. The salaries of public employees are public data and messages sent on their work e-mail accounts can be made public. Expecting that on-the-job interactions with citizens are subject to their individual rights to privacy, besides being a indication of their sense of exceptionalism, may also be a reflection of unconscious feelings of guilt – for obvious reasons.

    “But state employees acting as state employees don’t have rights. Citizens have rights.”

    A simple point that needs to be understood.

  15. They don’t really think that this is a privacy issue. They just see a way to avoid accountability and go for it.

  16. Christ. The state attorney prosecuting Graber, Joseph I. Casilly, has ZERO private sector experience.

    http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdma…..14104.html

    For taxpayer-sucking leeches, there’s nothing wrong with unquestionable absolute government power.

    1. How about we enact a prevailing wage law for government employees based on not the union wage but for what people in the non-governmental sector (i.e., real world) get. A lot of these leeches would quickly find other blood to suck on (and some would starve).

  17. Does this mean the video camera mounted on my AR isn’t an acceptable means to record officers?

    1. Its OK as long its TACTICAL :–)

    2. As long as there’s no bayonet lug.

      1. Barrel shroud!! Barrel shroud!! You know, a shoulder thing that goes up.

  18. Governments and their employees have powers, and only to the extent that those powers have been delegated to them by the people they’re governing.

    But you delegated me everything!

  19. But state employees acting as state employees don’t have rights. Citizens have rights.

    Whoa whoa whoa. I agree with your position on the interpretation of the wiretapping statute, but are you claiming that state employees cease to have the rights of citizens when they are acting as state employees?

    That’s an unnecessary position to take anyway. You can argue that recording someone in a situation where there is no expectation of privacy is not a rights violation, without going out of your way to stick it to public employees. If you’re sitting in your vehicle in a crowded public parking lot, and Joe Schmo from down the street comes up and starts talking to you while you’re in the vehicle, you should be able to record him even if he’s toughing it out in the private sector or even wholly unemployed.

    1. …are you claiming that state employees cease to have the rights of citizens when they are acting as state employees?

      A guess:

      State employees are also citizens, so they do have rights. But those rights come from the fact that they are citizens, not state employees.

      1. That’s what I think was supposed to come out, but what came out was something appallingly different. He should have said “state employees don’t have rights because of that status” or whatever.

    2. Actually you forgo some rights as a civil servant. You are generally not allowed to work on local political campaigns. Some cities require complaints and whistle blowing first be reported internally and so on. So yes, you are not a normal citizen, just like military forgo rights when they sign on the line.

  20. The Gizmodo guy got educated when SWAT knocked down his door.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-april-28-2010/appholes

  21. Sheesh. The police are now mostly peopled with psychos. You’d be crazy yourself if you ever called “them” if you needed help. They’d most likely come just to shoot your dog.

  22. Know what will happen when we throw away the 1st amendment? Stuff like this:

    http://mashable.com/2010/06/04/china-blocks-foursquare/

  23. perhaps an area where the left and right can agree– no police state!!!

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