Illinois Citizens Still Being Arrested For Filming Cops Despite Court
Ruling Which Blocked Unconstitutional Law
Illinois citizens are still being arrested for recording police officers despite a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year that blocked the enforcement of the law on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.
Following yesterday's story concerning residents of Naperville who attempted to resist utility workers invading their private property to install so-called 'smart meters' - which have been linked with health issues - it emerged that one of the refusniks, Malia “Kim” Bendis, was arrested on attempted eavesdropping charges for recording police officers during the incident.
The irony of citizens being arrested for supposedly "eavesdropping" on cops in public where there is no expectation of privacy, while simultaneously the government forcibly installs devices on people's property that really do eavesdrop on them in total violation of the 4th amendment, is staggering. Remember - this is a state that threatens to send people to prison for life for recording police officers.
Bendis filmed her friend's confrontation with city workers and police but at no time attempted to interfere in their actions. The video clip shows an officer asking Bendis not to film him, an order with which she immediately complies.
However, the Chicago Tribune reports that Bendis was arrested and "Charged with two misdemeanors — attempted eavesdropping and resisting a peace officer."
The state of Illinois is still directing its police officers to enforce a law that has repeatedly been found unconstitutional.
As the PINAC blog notes, "Bendis was charged with misdemeanor eavesdropping which indicates they may have kept the law intact but reduced it to a misdemeanor from a felony. Or more likely means the newspaper wasn’t very clear in their reporting," adding that the Illinois legislature introduced a “technical change” to the law a day before the incident, but that no one seems to be aware of what exactly the change is.
In May 2012, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the enforcement of a law that made it a felony to film police officers in the state of Illinois. This followed a case involving Illinois resident Michael Allison - who at one point was facing life in jail for recording cops.
"The Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests; as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free-press guarantees," wrote Judge Diane Sykes.
Furthermore, when Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez appealed the ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman re-affirmed it. In states all across the country, Americans arrested for filming police officers in public have won their cases. In August 2011, the First Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled that it is not illegal for citizens to videotape police officers when they are on public duty.
Eavesdropping charges against Illinois resident Tiawanda Moore for recording patrol officers were dropped in August 2011, after a “Criminal Court jury quickly repudiated the prosecution’s case, taking less than an hour to acquit Moore on both eavesdropping counts.”
Despite numerous different courts not only in Illinois but across the United States continually ruling that it is not illegal to record police officers in public, Americans continue to be arrested for doing so.
This sets a dangerous new precedent in America's decline towards an authoritarian state, where laws that have clearly been blocked as unconstitutional are being enforced illegally on a whim for the convenience of police officers to abuse the rights of citizens without their actions being documented.