• Body Blows Against the First Amendment

    April 11, 2015

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America

    continental congress


    Two recent cases show the contempt with which our government, at the federal and state levels, views the First Amendment.



    First Amendment Semi-Win After Military Police Harass, Sexually Threaten Journalist

    A very basic tenet of our democracy is that a free press exists to report to The People on the actions of their government, and that government is prohibited by the beautiful words of the First Amendment from interfering. In a small instance in Ohio, after the government had military police officers in the United States harass and confiscate the cameras of journalists, the journalists went to court and won back their rights.

    The U.S. government agreed to pay The Toledo Blade newspaper $18,000 for seizing the cameras of a photographer and deleting photographs taken outside the Lima Tank plant last year. In turn, The Blade agreed to dismiss the lawsuit it filed U.S. District Court on behalf of photographer Jetta Fraser and reporter Tyrel Linkhorn against Chuck Hagel, then Secretary of Defense and the military police officers involved in the March 28, 2014, incident.

    An attorney for The Blade said the settlement was made under the First Amendment Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits the government, in connection with the investigation of a criminal offense, from searching or seizing any work product materials possessed by a journalist. “The harassment and detention of The Blade’s reporter and photographer, the confiscation of their equipment, and the brazen destruction of lawful photographs cannot be justified by a claim of military authority or by the supposed imperatives of the national security state.”

    The government admits no wrongdoing, however, and just paid off the settlement.

    Here’s what happened. The reporter and photographer were in Lima to cover a news conference at another facility and had been tasked to take photos of area businesses for future use, including pictures of the tank plant, known as the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center.

    As the pair were leaving they were detained by three military police officers and questioned. Fraser showed the officers her Blade identification, but initially declined to provide her driver’s license as she was not driving. She was removed against her will from her vehicle and handcuffed for more than an hour.

    During the confrontation, the officers repeatedly referred to Ms. Fraser in the masculine gender. She objected and was told by one officer, “You say you are a female. I’m going to go under your bra.”

    The officers then confiscated two cameras, memory cards, a pocket-sized personal calendar, and a notebook in clear violation of the First Amendment.


    Philly Cop Arrests Man for Photographing Philly Cop Harassing Homeless Woman

    A college student arrested as he photographed a Philadelphia police officer harass a homeless woman in a public park was put into handcuffs and held for an hour. Federal jurors must now decide whether the cop had cause to cuff Coulter Loeb, 24, and charge him with disorderly conduct.

    The case, however, is about far more than a simple disorderly conduct rap. At issue is how the Philadelphia government sees the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, and how it views people fulfilling their responsibilities as citizens to provide oversight to government employees performing their jobs. And it does not look good for all that in Philly.

    Things went south almost from the get-go, after the trial judge dismissed any connection between the arrest and the First Amendment.

    In a pretrial order that covered two similar cases, the judge ruled that the federal appeals court in Philadelphia had not “clearly established” a First Amendment right to photograph police as of 2011, when this incident occurred. “Whether the Third Circuit will eventually decide to follow what appears to be a growing trend in other circuits to recognize a First Amendment right to observe and record police activity is, of course, not for this court to decide, even if there are good policy reasons [to] adopt that change,” U.S. District William Yohn wrote. He therefore threw out Loeb’s free-speech claim, leaving a jury to weigh only the Fourth Amendment issues of false arrest and malicious prosecution.

    Moving on to how the city of Philadelphia views these issues, we turn to the city attorney working the case, who described arrestee Coulter Loeb, in front of his ACLU attorney, as “a meddlesome 24-year-old” with “very high-minded ideas about government” and the role of media. The Assistant City Solicitor told jurors that Loeb was interfering with police work by photographing police work in a public place.

    But what was in the mind of the arresting officer? “He [Loeb ]looked me up and down, and then took one step back. That to me was being a wise guy,” said the cop.

    Irony Alert: Yes, yes, it was in Philadelphia in 1787 that the Constitutional Convention was held. How far we have fallen.




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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      04/11/15 8:42 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      Damn those videos. Fairfax VA policeman caught on video again. The porn charges can’t improve the trust of the citizens after officer Adam Torres shot and killed John Geer, an unarmed man standing in his doorway.

      http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/virginia/2015/04/10/fairfax-police-officer-investigation-for-child-porn/25576025/

      04/11/15 8:49 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      3

      Bauer- I get out of jury duty when I answer one specific question:”Would you tend to believe a police officer’s testimony over the defendan’s word” (paraphrase). I usually write in- Hell no! along with checking the box in a way that makes me an unacceptable potential juror.

      04/11/15 9:06 AM | Comment Link

    • starknakedtruth said...

      4

      Amateurs! I get out of jury duty when asked if I support capital punishment. I always respond by saying, “You betcha! And the guillotine works best.”

      04/11/15 9:29 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      I believe the jury should also be the executioner…with baseball bats. Killing is the AMERIKAN WaY.

      04/11/15 11:22 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      6

      “Two recent cases show the contempt with which our government, at the federal and state levels, views the…” CONSTITUTION.

      1. The recent revelation of the DEA’s decades old illegal surveillance of Americans, the discovery of a secret intelligence unit called the Special Operations Division(SOD)

      and the systemic use of a secret program, called parallel construction, to invent “probable cause”, to the point, prosecutors were instructed to even LIE to a judges face to prevent it’s discovery.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/05/us-dea-sod-idUSBRE97409R20130805

      2. The final release of a FBI non-disclosure aggreement document, totally unredacted, during a trial in Erie County New York. This is what is the most astounding one word testimony by Law Enforcement in history…

      quote”Defense attorney Joshua Insley asked Cabreja about the agreement.

      ‘Does this document instruct you to withhold evidence from the state’s attorney and Circuit Court, even upon court order to produce?’ he asked.

      “Yes,” Cabreja said.”unquote

      https://www.emptywheel.net/2015/04/10/is-stingray-unique-or-does-all-national-security-information-sharing-involve-such-silencing/

      The USG has now redefined contempt.

      “How far we have fallen.”unquote

      Put another way.. “How far have we fallen?”

      All the fucking way. We’ve hit the bottom of the abyss, but the DFCOTP didn’t even see it coming. The USS Titanic has hit the bottom of the Sea of Fascism. Exactly like Jim Garrison said in 1967.

      quote”Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I’m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.”unquote

      Given the CISA will pass with flying colors, and the propaganda machine is already prepping for the upcoming Patriot Act sunset battle, and the scumbag Senator Burr running the senate Intelligence Oversight Committee, the only thing left is abolishing the 2nd Amendment. And they’re already working on it.

      Youbetcha. “Shall not be infringed” unless it’s in the name of National Security. Fortunately, some people ain’t buying it…

      http://www.patrickhenrysociety.com/open-letter-to-the-adjutant-general-of-washington-state/

      04/12/15 8:13 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      7

      PVB- well today (Sunday) Hillary may announce her run. I guess I should start learning how to fast properly so I can share my gruel with you in Camp McDougal without endangering my own nutritional needs. I wonder if we’ll have Camp McDougal stamped on our cot blankets. Just curious.

      04/12/15 9:12 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      8

      Oh, right, John, I sorta forgot to mention. About our bet, where you have to share your gruel with me once we are both in the re-education camp after Hillary is crowned. Good news is you don’t have to share with me. It turns out for a generous donation to the Clinton Foundation, I have been designated a “Special Overseer.” So I’ll be standing on a platform beating you with a stick while you assemble (tax-deductible) iPads for the Clinton’s to donate to kids in Haiti 14 hours a day.

      04/12/15 9:48 AM | Comment Link

    • starknakedtruth said...

      9

      Sucks to be you guys! I have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

      04/12/15 10:18 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      10

      OK Captain, so I can quit that crappy fasting bit? “What we’ve got here is_____failure to assemble at the required rate. One night in the box for you Poole!”

      04/12/15 10:50 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      11

      Speaking of Clinton announcing her run at Queen of the World..

      http://www.theonion.com/articles/hillary-clinton-to-nation-do-not-fuck-this-up-for,38416/

      Hahahahahahahaha! perfect.

      04/12/15 5:11 PM | Comment Link

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