By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The ACLU of Pennsylvania is appealing a decision by a federal judge that says citizens do not have a blanket first amendment right to film police.
In a 21-page decision, District Court Judge Mark Kearney ruled that recording police is not itself speech protected by the First Amendment without some form of expressive conduct.
The decision contradicts rulings in courts in Boston, Chicago and Atlanta that says simply the act of recording police is protected.
“We think that most of the courts in the country that address this got it right.”
Mary Catherine Roper is deputy legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. The group sued the city on behalf of two plaintiffs detained for filming the police.
She says they plan to appeal the ruling, which would require citizens alert police that they are engaged in speech when they start recording, but she says, recording cops is still legal.
“This is not a ruling that people can be arrested for recording police, that’s not at all what he said.”
She says the ruling only practical effect is in lawsuits so citizens should continue to record police conduct, noting the police department issued a directive acknowledging citizens right to record since 2011.