Photo: Getty
  /  08.25.2022

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is fighting back against Arizona legislation that limits recording police interactions.

AP News reports that the organization’s Arizona chapter filed a petition alongside several news platforms in the state arguing that the law is an attack on First Amendment rights. “This law is a violation of a vital constitutional right and will severely thwart attempts to build police accountability,” said the ACLU in an official statement. “It must be struck down before it creates irreparable community harm.”

Furthermore, the complaint says that the law holds “blatant constitutional issues,” while also being too ambiguous in some parts. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Maricopa County Attorney General Rachel Mitchell, and Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone have all been named as defendants in the suit.

As previously reported by REVOLT, a law sponsored by Arizona Republican Rep. John Kavanagh prevents the public from “knowingly” filming officers within an eight-foot range. “I’m pleased that a very reasonable law that promotes the safety of police officers and those involved in police stops and bystanders has been signed into law,” he said when the law was passed on July 8. “It promotes everybody’s safety yet still allows people to reasonably videotape police activity as is their right.”

Per the legislation, those on private property have to get the necessary consent to film while keeping the required distance. Those who violate the law will be fined. Failure to stop filming following an officer’s request will result in a misdemeanor and a possible jail sentence of 30 days. Journalists have joined the ACLU in the fight against the state legislation, noting that the new policy makes doing their job almost impossible. “We fear that, rather than acting as a shield to ensure ‘officer safety,’ this law will serve as a sword to abridge the ‘clearly established’ First Amendment right to video record police officers performing their official duties in public,” said Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association in a statement.

 

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