The story is a little vague, and there may be more to the incident, but it seems a Philadelphia police officer has proven his ignorance of the rights of the free press:
PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia family said they are outraged over the arrest of one of their family members.
The family of Neftaly Cruz said police had no right to come onto their property and arrest their 21-year-old son simply because he was using his cell phone’s camera. They told their story to Harry Hairston and the NBC 10 Investigators.
Cruz said police told him that he broke a new law that prohibits people from taking pictures of police with cell phones.
“They threatened to charge me with conspiracy, impeding an investigation, obstruction of a investigation. …They said, ‘You were impeding this investigation.’ (I asked,) ‘By doing what?’ (The officer said,) ‘By taking a picture of the police officers with a camera phone,'” Cruz said.
The police eventually let Cruz go, telling him some story about how there was no supervisor on duty so they couldn’t charge him. That’s nonsense and they know it.
It’s established law, based on the constitutional freedom of the press, that you can take pictures of anything you can see from anywhere you are allowed to be, unless the owner of the property you’re on tells you not to.
Cruz says he was in his own yard. The police say he was on public property. Again, it’s established law that when the owner of the property is the government, constitutional rights kick in, and the government can’t prevent you from taking pictures on public property as long as you have a right to be there. (There are some exceptions to allow military bases to restrict photography in certain areas.) The police might be able to order you to leave the area under certain conditions, but they have no right to tell you to stop taking pictures.
Come to think of it, if this cop thinks you can interfere with something by taking pictures of it, he’s also ignorant of the laws of physics.
(Hat tip, The Agitator)