Michael Brown Shooting

Federal Judge Orders Police Not to Interfere with Recording in Ferguson


Judge who? Never heard of the guy.

The police's poor handling of media and the public recording their behavior in Ferguson, Missouri, became as much part of the news as its militarized response when faced with protesters upset with Michael Brown's shooting. Journalists were detained. Folks were ordered to stop recording police. They instituted a no-fly zone over Ferguson to keep out media helicopters.

As we close in the announcement by a grand jury (any moment now) to tell us whether Officer Darren Wilson will face charges for killing Brown, the Missouri chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has gone to federal judges to get court orders securing a reminder that citizens have the right to film the police. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The orders signed by U.S. District Judge John A. Ross are in response to a motion filed by the ACLU last week. The organization complained authorities were still inhibiting filming of protest-related events, despite earlier court agreements with St. Louis County, Ferguson and Highway Patrol Superintendent Ronald Replogle.

Friday's court orders say the highway patrol and county police are "permanently enjoined from enforcing a policy or custom of interfering with individuals who are photographing or recording at public places but who are not threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties."

Unfortunately, police have a lengthy history of flat out ignoring such orders in the field. In this very case, they've been ignoring other agreements to stop this censorious behavior, according to the ACLU. But we know from coverage of this behavior across the country that police are quick to invoke those exceptions listed above and claim that filming them is threatening the safety of others or interfering in law enforcement duties, even when it's clearly not the case. Reason TV covered such an incident in Los Angeles in 2013. Watch below. Do not be surprised if journalists and non-journalists alike still run into problems trying to record police behavior in Ferguson. Do not be surprised if there are no real consequences for police who violate the order.

NEXT: WATCH: Ferguson Grand Jury Decides–Police Press Conference (Parody)

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  1. Will Reason live-stream the press conference?

  2. Any bets on how bad the police have to act to draw an official response? Your options are tear gas canister to the face, randomly applied taser, beatings, shooting a protestor, shooting a bystander, shooting a baby, or shooting a politician. No odds on wrongful arrest, use of tear gas/rubber bullets for no reason, or “creative” crowd-control measures like the five-second rule for last time, because we know how many fucks the state gives about those.

    1. Actually, I suspect the police will (largely) be on their best behavior. They know all eyes will be on them, and the more violent protestors will try to provoke them, and thus try to have something new to complain about. I just hope they don’t follow the “Let the mobs burn and loot” strategy. Because half the communist activists in the country are there, waiting to riot.

      1. No doubt the grand jury will acquit, and the message to the FPD will be “We can do whatever we want!” I foresee a bloodbath. But I hope I’m wrong.

      2. “Communist activists”? Better to go with “outside agitators”, Mr. Connor.

        All it takes is one cop fucking up to domino into something very bad. And there are unfortunately good odds on that happening.

        1. The Revolutionary Communist Party is there, handing out flyers calling for violence.

          1. Let’s get this party started. I’m sick of waiting for the ultra-violence I’ve been promised to break out.

      3. They had all the eyes on them during the protests and their response was to put the boot on people’s faces.

        1. And police never change how they respond to events? Even when the DoJ and and the governor and who knows who else has been around to have a chat?

          1. We’ll see.

  3. The only thing the Ferguson police got right in this whole mess was Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown. Maybe they should promote him to chief.

    1. Cynical, but possibly true. And funny.

    2. What a shitty thing to say.

      1. Not a fan of edgy humor, huh?

        1. Not when the premise is wrong. If I liked that I’d watch TDS.

  4. What time does all hell break loose? Will it be during happy hour?

    1. I live in the ghetto, so I hope it’s after I get home from work. If it’s before then, I’m taking a taxi home instead of the bus. All it takes is one indignant asshole.

      1. ….in the ghettooooo….



  6. “Judge John A. Ross has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”


    1. If I were Judge Ross, I would find some way to discreetly let the police know that if they disobey this order it will be a long time before any warrant applications get approved again.

      1. I would remind them that violating a judge’s order makes you eligible for contempt of court and some jail.

        Which the judge can pretty much do unilaterally.

  7. More cameras, please. The more people see the rioters being rioters, the better. The narrative collapsed ages ago but a few entities are still beating the RACISSSSSSSM drum.

    1. “but a few entities are still beating the RACISSSSSSSM drum.”

      Oh, the irony!

      1. Would “tooting the racism horn” be better? “Playing the racism glockenspiel”?

        1. Racist recorder?

          1. Nothing causes my hair to stand on end and curdles my blood more than Three Blind Mice as performed by a sugar-addicted 3rd grader on the recorder. Fucking horror show.

        2. The racist xylophone. Cyto’s favorite instrument.

          1. It can be beautiful!

          1. Nice, but it’s still drums, and drums = Africa = racism.

  8. Unfortunately, police have a lengthy history of flat out ignoring such orders in the field.

    Yeah, Judge. Now enforce your order.

  9. I hope the jury presses charges. Not sure if the officer is guilty but I think a trial is warranted.

    1. It’s not like he would have to pay his own court cost, make bail, or stay in prison like a plebe. Plus it would give it time to blow over.

    2. Not sure if the officer is guilty but I think a trial is warranted.

      I’m not a legal expert but is an appropriate reason to charge someone?

      1. No, the mere fact of being accused is so disruptive to someone’s liberty (and pocketbook) that prosecutors better only do it when they think he’s guilty and they can prove it.

        It’s easy enough to make a Pilatian shrug and say, “well, put him through a trial, see what happens.”

      2. They tried Zimmerman on the theory that “Gee, we’d better do something, because some people are upset,” and that didn’t work out well for anyone. Prosecutors should only bring cases to trial if they’re pretty sure of guilt. From what I have seen, it seems unlikely that Wilson committed a crime, and highly unlikely that he’d be convicted of anything.

        1. Exactly. Mob violence is mob violence whether it is by the citizens of Ferguson (did they do any voting out of incumbents at the last election??), the po-po gang, or the Stasi judicial system.

        2. From what I have seen, it seems unlikely that Wilson committed a crime

          Looks pretty shaky to me. Shooting still doesn’t seem justified.

          1. The evidence I’ve seen shows Brown assaulted Wilson in the car, tried to grab his gun, fled, then turned back and charged. The autopsy report supports this. The “shot in the back” and “hands up” claims have both been disproven.

      3. Actually, “not sure” is a little soft, but pretty close to the “probably cause” standard for indictment.

        caveat: while I may be a criminal attorney, I am not a criminal attorney.

  10. Ferguson is one of those situations where it’s hard to find anybody to root for; all parties involved seem messed up. It must be tough to be an ordinary citizen in that area, caught between asshole rioters and asshole cops.

  11. Is now a bad time to leave my car parked in downtown Ferguson overnight? nah, it’ll be fine.. people know better than to fuck with a BMW.

    1. Your “Police Athletic League” sticker will further mark it as untouchable.

    2. Go ahead, so we can all “blame the victim” in the morning when your beemer is a smoking ruin.

  12. Mob Rule or Cop Rule. What a great situation.

    1. Mob Rule or Cop Rule.

      But you repeat yourself.

      The only difference, I suppose, is who constitutes the lawless crowd going around stealing shit and beating people up.

  13. The cops took a situation where, frankly, they could have garnered some sympathy, and they messed it up.

    I mean, one of their officers shot a robber in uncertain circumstances, at first the robber was trumpeted as a “gentle giant” who was just skipping down the street with his gift basket of flowers, going to Grandma’s house. Animated by that narrative, rioters smashed up businesses which had no connection with the original shooting. Then when the truth came out, rioters doubled down on the stupid and made this Brown guy a representative of minority victims of police brutality. If this borderline confrontation with a robber is the typical “police brutality” case, then gosh, the cops can’t be all bad!

    If you’re not a race-baiting gangster wannabe, you’re going to be inclined to side with the cop, not the felon.

    So how is it that the cops messed it up and interfered with journalists and spat on the First Amendment?

    They must have the same PR consultant as the late Michael Jackson.

    1. I agree, and I think they know that now, which is what I was saying to Cytotoxic above. Even police departments are capable of learning.

  14. Over the past few years, few things have opened my eyes wider than the response from cops when they realize they’re being filmed.

    These people go absolutely bat-shit when being recorded, all the while recording at every step their interaction with the public: Okay for them to record you, from a dash-cam or camera in their “precinct”.

    But when THEY do not control the recording process, they become frantic? nervous? twitchy? unhinged?.and most important, violent.

    If you’re a cop, get used to it asshole: You’re going to be recorded, and there is absolutely nothing you’re going to do about it.

    Got that, tough guy?

    1. Seems some have got it. Several stories in the last month about departments buying personal cameras for their boys in blue and many cops saying yes.

    2. In Canada we had the cops FINALLY enforce a court order against assholes that were blocking work on the glorious Kinder oil line expansion. They took too long to clear them out but I am very happy they were all wearing body cameras…which I assume were recording.

  15. Seems like this would strip qualified immunity from any officer violating the order.

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