By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is filing a federal lawsuit today on behalf of a Temple University student who says he was arrested two years ago after videotaping city police officers.
ACLU senior attorney Mary Catherine Roper says Temple student Christopher Montgomery used his iPhone in January 2011 to record an altercation involving police and a mob in center city.
Montgomery was arrested, and Roper contends his civil rights were violated.
“These cases are coming up all over the country,” she tells KYW Newsradio. “And unfortunately in Pennsylvania, the courts have waffled on whether you have a First Amendment right to record police. We think it’s inconceivable that you would not have a First Amendment right to record police — after all, they work for you.”
Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey has in fact issued a memo advising officers to allow video recording, but Roper says officers have been ignoring that directive.
A spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department said this morning that the department has not yet received the lawsuit and cannot yet comment.