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Velshi: Filming police is good for the public, and good cops.


A newly proposed bill in the state of Arizona would make videos like the ones that captured the police killings of George Floyd and Eric Garner illegal. House Bill 2319 would make it unlawful for someone to film a police officer in public, without their permission, or within 15-feet of the officer carrying out “law enforcement activity.” The legislation was proposed by Republican State Representative John Kavanaugh, a retired cop who spent decades as an officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Over the last decade or so, the public’s best defense against police brutality has been the smartphone that just about every one of us has in our pockets at all times. This modern breakthrough is positive. It guarantees transparency on both sides. Officers can’t get away with illegal activity and civilians can’t make-up stories about police brutality that didn’t happen. To those who support a law like the one proposed in Arizona, let’s remember that we are, still, a democracy: a society whose politics, public security, and military are governed by civilians. Police, in this country, are public servants, who don’t get to make decisions about who sees and records what they do. The idea that the public should seek permission before filming the police is insidious. The First Amendment protects your right to record law enforcement. Federal courts and the Justice Department have confirmed it. To not do so, is to turn the lights of accountability off.