WARNING: Filming a cop with your cell phone can now get you 15 years in the hole; just ask these poor shmucks.
Still from Sundance finalist Ty Hardaway’s short film “Getting Along”
I remember thinking black people were right to riot after the Rodney King verdict. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to be safely tucked away on the Upper West Side and protected by a Hispanic doorman, but from an intellectual perspective it was a no brainer: The video was right there on the fucking TV! How you gonna say it’s OK to beat the shit out of the guy like that?
When the judge and jury actually saw Celebrity Rehab contestant Rodney King being savagely beaten, and still found the cops innocent, Black America© was outraged. (The question is: Would they STILL have been outraged if he hadn’t been a celebrity?)
Either way, an overall message was clear: Due to the magic of ten-pound shoulder cameras, federal express packages and television, a new era of justice had arrived. From now on the cops would have to watch their asses — they never knew when people would pull a ten-pound handycam out of a knapsack and BOOM.
Like most pressing threats, it took Johnny Law 20 years to respond — but their response this time is a doozy: Check this shit out. These two poor fucks are going to do 15 YEARS behind bars for just audiotaping cops without their consent, and one of them was recording a cop who was allegedly sexually harassing her!
At press time, it’s only quite this harsh in Chicago (well, all of Illinois, but the rest of the state’s toothless population doesn’t have smartphones or computers) but law enforcement is making inroads towards making these draconian policies the law of the land.
Look, here’s the bottom line: I couldn’t do what the police do; I thank god for the cops. My best FRIEND is a cop. A black cop. A lesbian black handicapped cop — and don’t be a dick: She was wounded on 9/11 an has a desk job now like the extras on Barney Miller.
The point is this: I love the police more than my own mother, but as a society, I think we’re making a serious mistake by not reforming these laws.
All of us regular citizens are walking around getting filmed all the time — there are security cameras everywhere — and we’re told not to bitch about our privacy because “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear.”
Why exactly are police exempt from this? How exactly does filming a cop ostensibly endanger them?
“Eavesdropping laws” are as outdated as the Second Amendment; they were intended to prevent the mob from wiretapping police conversations and altering their criminal master plans to avoid capture. In 2011, police are as endangered by iPhones as NRA members are threatened by the British army.
We never could have imagined that 20 years after Rodney King, everyone would be walking around with miniature cameras in their pockets — so just realize that in 20 more years, everyone WILL be walking around with ocular camera implants. Laws that already seem awkward in light of today’s technological advances with seem like the Salem Witch Decrees by 2025.
Look, nobody likes being recorded at their job. I could KILL the motherfucker who proved to my boss that I spend 40% of my day on Redtube. But sentencing people to spend 15 years behind bars because they left a cellphone camera running is as corrupt and cruel as a Giuliani mop-handle to the starfish.