Free Markets, Free People

All the trappings of a police state

Imagine living in a place where the authorities can record everything you say or do without your consent, however if you do the same – for your own protection – that’s a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

Sound like a place you’d want to live?

In fact, that’s precisely the case in Illinois. Watch this illuminating 15 minute video. If it doesn’t make you furious, then you simply don’t care about your Constitutionally guaranteed rights. And you’re perfectly fine with the creeping fascism that seems to be infecting parts of our country:


Recording conversations and events pertinent to your legal situation, standing and rights, especially when dealing with public officials in their official capacity, should not be in question.  Ever.  Wanting a record makes perfect sense and, as you might imagine, has a tendency to keep conversations and actions in line with the law and on a much more polite and civil level.

Most importantly, it is something you must have every a right to do.  Why is it they get a legal right to privacy (i.e. can deny consent) when the citizen doesn’t enjoy the same right?   That’s not how I understand the purpose of the Constitution and the rights it guarantees the citizens.  It is government it prohibits from violating the rights of citizens not the other way around.

I can certainly understand the law saying one must inform a public official that he or she is being recorded (a simple, “hey, I’m recording this” would suffice), but beyond that, I see no requirement that they give obtain consent for that recording to continue, especially while the public official is acting within their official capacity and executing the duties of their office. 

What this gentleman is going through is simply an exercise in raw power designed to intimidate.  Obviously the law needs to be changed and changed expeditiously.  But if that doesn’t happen – and it appears it won’t – his best chance is a jury trial.   Most people with any sense are going to reject the government’s case as overbearing, a violation of a citizen’s rights and just plain old un-American.  And as you can see in the video, any attempt to solicit information about the case from public officials was ignored.  That should tell you a lot about how confident they are about the case.

Bottom line: This is an example of the creeping fascism that is infecting our country.  This is “let me see your papers” territory.   And it needs to be firmly and swiftly nipped in the bud.


Twitter: @McQandO

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34 Responses to All the trappings of a police state

  • Can’t watch the video currently, but as an Illinois resident, I’d like to know what city this was in, so I can keep a careful eye on it, and possibly view court proceedings.

  • Insanity.

  • Everyone should claim they are a citizen journalist and have protection under the 1st admendment.  It shoudnt have to come to that though.  Any elected official who opposes citizens filiming police officers should be ran out of town on a rail.

  • Very few people appreciate the meat grinder that is a criminal case.  Even if this guy is ultimately acquitted, it will cost him a small fortune in defense fees, not to mention the stress and stigma.
    Prosecutors who get “creative” with old statutes like this one has are the model of tyrannical abuse of power that we all should fear.  It is very hard to see any societal benefit that would come from this misapplication of a law written in a different technological era.
    I WOULD make a very good case to carry up to the Supremes.  Hard to see Thomas upholding this application.

  • Curious, anyone have an idea which 12 states have similar laws? I’m betting the majority are liberal fascist (Democrat) states.

  • It is a case like this one that makes me wish I had great wealth. I could then send the best, sharpest attorneys to run his defense, overwhelm the dingbats, and establish once and for all that it is not illegal to record public officials doing their jobs. If I were an honest public official, I would welcome the public to record any interactions in order to show that my actions are above-board at all times.

    • I suspect that the principles involved have been reaffirmed at the federal level but that states like IL keep enforcing them in spite of that. Any prosecutors or police chiefs caught enforcing such laws should be stripped of rank, job and pension, and not given any immunity from prosecution. Also, there should be a statutory minimum damages in such cases, starting at, say one million. That would have a salutary effect.

      • more than that, they should be prosecuted for denying the civil rights of citizens, and if there were any paper trail where they discussed this among themselves then arrest them all on RICOH anti-racketeering for entering into a conspiracy to deny civil rights.

    • me, too, if I get rich, and you do, we can go into business.  Sounds like a very good use of money to me.
      We can be like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, sitting in the back and mocking the prosecutors.

  • It is a wonder this is going to trial with this

    BOSTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled unanimously late Friday that Simon Glik had a right to videotape police in action on Boston Common. Mr. Glik sued three police officers and the City of Boston for violating his civil rights after police arrested him and charged him with illegal wiretapping, aiding the escape of a prisoner, and disturbing the peace–all for merely holding up his cell phone and openly recording Boston police officers who were punching another man on Boston Common in October 2007. As a defense, the police argued the law was not clear, but the Court decisively rejected their claim of immunity from being sued.

    If this is appealed the state will definitely lose.

    • I presume everyone’s lumping this in with a First Amendment expression case, right?  No one has specifically said so.  Everyone keeps saying “Constitutional rights” without referencing which one guarantees this right.  I will tell you that the First Circuit says it’s a First Amendment right.  I would tend to agree.
      I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but I think deservedly so.  Take the specific facts from the Illinois case out for a minute, because that prosecution is clearly ridiculous.  What is being advocated for in this thread is not that the Illinois case is an oppressive use of police power, but seems to be a call for an adoption of the idea that videotaping the police – under any circumstances – is an inherent right.   I think going too far in either direction has predictably bad results.

      • Pretty sure that is NOT a First Amendment case from the prosecutor’s standpoint.
        I know of no prescription on photographing people in public, as nobody has an expectation of privacy.  Hence, paparazzi.
        I also think that recording or photographing SOME police actions would pose a clear danger to the LEOs and their operation (i.e., undercover work).
        But this is not one of those RARE exceptions.  Just as a town hall SHOULD be taped, the normal work of police or other public servants should be fair game for recording in any form, IMNHO.  Nor do I think they should require notice.  They are ALWAYS on notice that they are under the public scrutiny.

        • No, I mean the contention that the statute is invalid is derived from a First Amendment claim.  That running a video camera would be a form of expression is a bit of a stretch, but that’s what the First Circuit went with.  It’s certainly not a privacy issue.  That much is clear.  In fact, I haven’t read the Illinois code, but I don’t know of a wiretapping statute around that doesn’t limit it to places where persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
          I agree that under normal circumstances, running a camera isn’t a big deal.  But that’s not how it usually happens.  You’re not walking down the street with a camera following you.   Usually you’re on the ground trying to keep a guy’s hand off your gun, and his a-hole drunk brother has the cell phone camera two inches from your face yelling about brutality.  In that circumstance, I would not be in favor of codifying his right to do so.  It is pure interference.  And it might get you hurt.

          • There is a BROAD avenue between recording conduct and interfering with it.  Please, don’t EVEN try that.

          • That’s what I said.  Read much? I said it makes little sense to broadly define a “right to record” in all circumstances, because it will lead to people claiming that right two inches from your face during a fight.  And then they will claim retaliation against that right for everything that happens afterward.  If there’s a “BROAD” (I don’t know why you like caps so much) avenue between, feel free to point out where the “avenue” ends.  You find the nice, neat black line you’ll draw.  Like I said, no cop cares if you’re just recording him giving tickets and things of that nature.  Hell, you can yell and complain about it while you’re doing it.  But if you extend that out to when the heat’s on (especially when you’re badly outnumbered) it’s fraught with problems.

          • “Like I said, no cop cares if you’re just recording him giving tickets and things of that nature.”
            Not to be a pain in the ass, really, but that’s exactly what’s happened in some cases.  People taking pictures of others getting tickets even.   Did you watch the video?  None of the examples presented seemed like they might have gone a little over the line perhaps?
            That’s what we’re on about here.
            General agreement, not ALWAYS, not in ALL cases.  If I was a LEO, I wouldn’t want anyone within arms length of me either, camera or not.
            This isn’t a personal matter for me, it’s a principle.  75 years seems a long long way over any kind of line, clear, fuzzy, or non-existent.  You’ll pardon me if I’m rooting for the little guy on this one, this is not what that law was written for, this is not the right that law was intended to protect.

  • And this

    Jean filed suit in Federal Court to enjoin the police from taking any further steps to suppress her First Amendment right to publish the tape. The District Court found that even if the tape was illegally made, Jean had “obtained the tape lawfully,” and the videotape related to a “matter of public concern.” Based upon that logic, the District Court concluded that the First Amendment likely protected her right to publish this lawfully-obtained tape, and in the absence of an injunction, there would be irreparable harm to Jean’s First Amendment rights. Transcript of hearing here. Injunction here

    Given the case cited in my post above this one the case should clearly be thrown out.

  • “videotaping the police – under any circumstances – is an inherent right. ”
    I understand perhaps not under any circumstances, but to flip the advocacy around – In performance of their duties on a public street, where is the expectation of their right to privacy, isn’t that what the statues against eavesdropping were meant to protect?  Which ‘right’ are they defending?
    Which circumstances do you envision then, performed in public, enforcing the law?
    They are being witnessed, they have no problem with that it seems, but they seem to have a serious problem with the idea that their witnesses are less impeachable (video and audio), which troubles me even more, because it points to potential abuses in the system that have always been in place.
    Is it because they can’t background check video to see if it has anything that can be used as leverage to get it to shut up?
    Is it because they can’t intimidate video into changing it’s story?
    Is it because they can’t put video on the stand and badger it, or make a plea bargain with it to make it go away?
    Face it, in the cases displayed by the video example, they want to maintain their ‘right’ to do what they want, and then deny it later.  I’d like to see a prosecutor who told them to stick their charges where the sun don’t shine, and it bothers me that those sons-of-bitches are aiding and abetting abusive and out of control police and politicians.
    Who freaking works for who here? Who are the laws meant for?

    • Looks like someone’s been to jail.

      • Have you?  What was it like?
        I can remember taking the Scout Troop on a tour of the local facilities, but as I recall they didn’t let the kids back into the actual cell area.  They mostly covered the whole putting away bad people thing for them without showing them any bad people or where the bad people were held.
        What’s it like to actually be BEHIND the bars?

      • Hey, this was your idea man, not mine.
        If you can’t discuss it like an adult, don’t play devil’s advocate.

      • Ah, I see, someone is a LEO.

  • A note to the police:

    We respect the hard work you do.  We are grateful for the fact that you do a dirty, tough, and dangerous job, and in almost all cases, do it honorably and effectively.  But:

    Let me explain how this works.  If you behave as honest, honorable public SERVANTS, then all will be well.  But if you start acting like MASTERS, then be warned: our ancestors showed us what to do at Lexington and Concord.

    • Thank you, Doc, that’s precisely the page I’m on.
      99% of the time, I’m all for Law enforcement and the people who have to deal with the scumbags the rest of us don’t want to have to deal with.  It’s ‘sir’ and ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when I talk to them, even when I’m getting a ticket.

      • Same here WRT how I interact with LEOs.  BUT I have made little bitty cops VERY nervous just by being the size I am.  I posed NO threat to them by anything I did or said, but I’ve had them call for all kinds of back-up a couple of times.

      • Absolutely.  My default position with regard to the police is to show them respect (the vast majority of them deserve it), and I hope that this never changes.

        • See, my default is to be civil. Respect might come by the end of the interaction, but they earn it through their conduct.
          But I will be civil. By god, I will be civil.

  • I found it quite disturbing that the prosecutor made the dropping of the unrelated civil action a condition of dropping the criminal charges.  This type of behaviour is unethical.

  • Ummm…Waco, Ruby Ridge, the wealthy guy shot down in his house so the city (Santa Monica?) could get his property…