• Home »
  • Cop Block »
  • Texas Republican Defies US Supreme Court, Seeks To Make Filming Police Illegal
Texas Republican Defies US Supreme Court, Seeks To Make Filming Police Illegal

Texas Republican Defies US Supreme Court, Seeks To Make Filming Police Illegal

AUSTIN TX  –  Texas representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), who first made headlines in 2013 for his weird statements on Obamacare, filed a bill on Tuesday that would criminalize filming the police as a private citizen.  This proposal is not only an egregious violation of free speech under the United States and Texas Bill of Rights but could be considered an act of defiance to mountains of legal precedent set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The bill seeks to add additional language under the current “INTERFERENCE WITH PUBLIC DUTIES” statute (Sec. 38.15) to limit the activity of filming the police (within 25 feet) to “news media” only, which he defines as…

(A)  a radio or television station that holds a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission;

(B)  a newspaper that is qualified under Section 2051.044, Government Code, to publish legal notices or is a free newspaper of general circulation and that is published at least once a week and available and of interest to the general public in connection with the dissemination of news or public affairs; or

(C)  a magazine that appears at a regular interval, that contains stories, articles, and essays by various writers, and that is available and of interest to the general public in connection with the dissemination of news or public affairs.

It’s no coincidence that internet based news sites are conveniently missing from his list of “approved media,” but more importantly, private citizens are completely excluded from being news media under the proposed definition, a right which was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Glik v. Cunniffe.  The Landmark case ruled that…

a private citizen has the right to record video and audio of public officials in a public place

The decision further states…

… “we have previously recognized that the videotaping of public officials is an exercise of First Amendment liberties” and held that Glik had a constitutional right to videotape a public official in a public place. The court noted that this right was not limited to, but a right of all citizens, subject to reasonable limitations of time, place and manner. It was clear in the current case that none of those limitations applied.

Second, the court looked at whether the right to videotape was clearly established at the time of the arrest. The court had “no trouble concluding that ‘the state of the law at the time of the alleged violation gave the defendant[s] fair warning that [their] particular conduct was unconstitutional.'” (brackets in original) The court noted that some constitution violations are “self-evident” and the right to film public officials in a public place was clearly established a decade prior to Glik’s arrest.

If violating the first amendment wasn’t enough for this authoritarian wannabe, Villalba decided to throw in some restrictions on the second amendment as well.  His bill allows for anyone to be armed within a 100 foot radius of a police officer, however, the second you whip out your smart phone and start recording an officer (potentially abusing their power) while in possession of a handgun, you would instantly be considered a criminal.  The proposed verbiage is as follows…

(1)  filming, recording, photographing, or documenting the officer within 25 feet of the officer; or

(2)  filming, recording, photographing, or documenting the officer within 100 feet of the officer while carrying a handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code.

(g)  It is a defense to prosecution for an offense under Subsection (a)(1) based on conduct described by Subsection (f)(2) that the interruption, disruption, impediment, or interference was caused by a person who, at the time of the offense, was:

(1)  a news media employee acting in the course and scope of the person’s employment; or

(2)  employed by or working with an organization or entity engaged in law enforcement activities.

Thanks in large part to the smart phone revolution, the majority of individuals are armed with some sort of recording device that can capture video images of police activity, for better or for worse.  This technology, coupled with social media allows individuals to share information that traditional media couldn’t possibly capture live, and share with the entire world with just a few taps on their phone.  Websites such as PhotographyIsNotaCrime.com and The Free Thought Project have captured the market on police accountability reporting, thanks in large part to average citizens filming police officers who are simply acting outside their authority, or in some cases, committing crimes against humanity.

So, at a time when police are becoming more militarized and more aggressive, it’s not surprising that corrupt politicians want to hide the immoral behavior of their hired guns.  I mean, to quote one of the governments favorite lines, ‘if they have nothing to hide, they should have nothing to fear’, right?  I personally do not believe this bill has a chance of advancing to becoming law, but the mere fact that this was trotted out is a look into the minds of these socioopaths who want to rule you and control you.

If you are appalled by this attempt to stifle free speech and restrict guns, give this man a call and let your voice be heard…

3-12-2015 11-01-09 AM