Body Cam Footage of Inauguration Protests No Longer Protected
Judge Lynn Leibovitz ruled on Oct. 18 that a protective order in the trial of 218 Inauguration Day protesters does not apply to police body camera footage taken before the arrests.
Leibovitz said the order did apply to the audio that accompanies the police video, citing the safety of the officers and their families.
The ruling came after sometimes impassioned pleading from the prosecution the previous week. Representing the government, prosecutor Jennifer Kerkhoff argued that law enforcement, including herself, have had personal information released as part of the case and used an instance when a police officer stated his address while the camera was on to argue that the rights of the defendants in the case should be limited.
People are entitled to go to work everyday with their uniforms on and not be identified, Leibovitz said, partially agreeing with the prosecution.
The Indypendent notes that the original motion for the protective order was filed when they published previously police body camera footage showing police brutalizing demonstrators. The Indypendent has not revealed the source of the video, and writes that the protesters “are facing up to 75 years in prison on charges of rioting and conspiracy to riot based on evidence as thin as the color of the clothing they wore.” The Real News notes that “According to charging documents, wearing the color black indicated participation in a criminal conspiracy.”
The bodycam footage obtained by the Real News shows a variety of weapons, including non-lethal stingball grenades and pepper spray, being used against peaceful protesters, including those not wearing black.
The Real News also states that while the government has cited protecting police officers as its motivation for not applying the protective order to body camera footage, it has not given protesters the same consideration. They attest that Rachel Schaerr, a communications officer at the Metropolitan Police Department, gave a list of the names and home cities of 231 people arrested at inauguration protests to the far-right site gotnews.com:
Dustin Sternbeck, the Director of the MPDs office of communications, denied that Schaerr leaked the information to Got News. The information that Ms. Schaerr provided regarding the Inauguration rioters is standard arrest book information that is available to the public, he wrote in a statement. He did not respond to further questions about how often MPD supplies convenient spreadsheets of the names, ages, and hometowns of arrestees to select media outlets, without supplying it to others.
Defendants in the case say that they were doxxed by Schaerr, whose resume boasts that she used Periscope and Facebook Live to host cyber press conferences to keep the public engaged in breaking incidents, including the arrests of more than 230 protesters on Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day. As a result, they were harassed by numerous Trump-supporting trolls.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in June against the Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, and several of the police officers involved in the handling of the incident for “making unconstitutional arrests, using excessive force, denying arrested people food, water, and access to toilets, and invasive bodily searches of protesters exercising their First Amendment rights on Inauguration Day.”
The Real News believes the suit be one of the reasons the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office do not want the protective order to apply to police body camera footage.Wait, before you go…
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