Wednesday, 6 March 2013

One law for the cops, one law for everyone else

"Stop filming."
It was announced last night that NSW Police would conduct an investigation into an event at the Sydney Mardi Gras that involves allegations of brutality (YouTube link). The Australian reported yesterday that:
"The NSW Police force is aware of the vision and an investigation will be conducted into the circumstances surrounding the incident," [a spokeswoman said].
The Towleroad blog contains a report that includes a recount of the event apparently by the cameraman who shot the vision despite repeated requests by police to stop filming:
As a press photographer I knew I was completely within my rights to film police officers in a public space, doing nothing wrong and breaking no laws, so I refused. You will notice I ask multiple times why I am not allowed to film and what laws am I breaking and receive no response.
The police officer at the time of the fracas repeatedly asked the cameraman to stop filming. In the meantime the police officer shown in the picture posted along with this blog post is clearly using excessive force to immobilise a young man who can be heard in the video asking again and again what he had done wrong. Then he starts to cry as he is being held on the ground under the policeman's foot. There was no response from police to the young lad but only repeated orders to the cameraman to stop filming.

Photographing and filming in a public place in Australia is completely lawful, and this video shows how important it is for someone who is asked to stop taking vision in a public place to know their rights.

This morning Alex Greenwich, the state member for Sydney, tweeted:
Last night I called for an investigation into the police incident at Mardi Gras, today police have launched one and share our concerns
Greens leader Christine Milne tweeted last night:
I have just seen [the video] and will take up issue.
Let's hope that the politicians in NSW and federally who have a conscience will also ask police why an officer thought it appropriate to tell a man with a video camera to stop filming. These kinds of stories come up from time to time, on a recent occasion involving police using force to take a smartphone from a member of the public after he had filmed them carrying out their duties. Police sensitivity is justified if they continue to use undue force to do so. But there cannot be one rule for the police and one rule for everyone else. Such a situation would be intolerable. Queenslanders know well what it means for police to consider themselves above the law; here's a quick plug for Queensland author Matthew Condon's latest book, Three Crooked Kings, about the state of the force in that state during the bad years under Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

UPDATE Wed 7.30am: The Daily Telegraph reports: "NSW Police said they had issued an 18-year-old man with a Field Court Attendance Notice for assaulting police, resisting arrest and offensive language following an incident at the intersection of Reilly Street and Oxford Street, Surry Hills, during Mardi Gras on Saturday 2 March 2013."

UPDATE Wed 10.05am: ABC News 24 interview just completed with two senior NSW police officers sees the organisation working hard to affirm "strong relations" with the LGBTI community in Sydney. NSW Police has begun internal investigations into the incident this blog post refers to, and in addition into another incident that occurred a bit later on Saturday night. In regard to orders from the police talked about in this blog post for a cameraman to "stop filming", in today's TV interview Assistant Commissioner Murdoch said that it is not police policy to stop members of the public filming in a public place.

UPDATE Wed 11pm: Fairfax Media has put together a useful video that talks about your rights with regard to making vision in public places. Click on the video at the top of the story to see it.

1 comment:

Christine Howes said...

Not liking these memories of the bad old days in Queensland surfacing again in realities...second video of police brutality I've seen in 20 minutes of today so far...