ACLU Responds To Story About Demanding DC Cops To Shut Off Bodycams, Here’s Why They’re Wrong

The ACLU wants you to believe it's illegal for police to record protesters.

The ACLU wants you to believe it’s illegal for police to record protesters.

ACLU Spreads Misinformation About DC Law Prohibiting Police Recording Protesters

Washington DC – We recently covered the story of DC police being prohibited from having their body cameras on during the inauguration protests, and the ACLU responded to the story.

DC Police officers have been told to keep their body cameras off during the inauguration day protests, with claims that it’s a violation of protester’s rights to record them in a public place (see full details HERE.)

When we covered the story, we placed the blame squarely on the administrators who made this decision, not the ACLU. The ACLU doesn’t make these decisions, they just spout their nonsense at the people who do make the decisions. Unfortunately for everybody, if the administrators believe the ACLU, then they’re wrong.

The ACLU’s response says that it’s not their “demands” which are keeping the cameras off, it’s DC law. And while the ACLU pushed for implementation of the law, they say that the law’s the law, and it’s not their fault that DC cops have to keep their body cameras off. After all, it’s the law that says so; except the problem is, that’s not what the law says.

MPD officers may record First Amendment assemblies for the purpose of documenting violations of law and police actions, as an aid to future coordination and deployment of law enforcement units, and for training purposes; provided, that recording First Amendment assemblies shall not be conducted for the purpose of identifying and recording the presence of individual participants who are not engaged in unlawful conduct.

That explicitly allows for officers to have their body cameras on at the protests. It says that officers are allowed to record the protesters on the condition that the recording isn’t done for the purpose of identifying protesters who are engaged in legal activity. However, police officers wouldn’t be recording for that purpose, they’d be recording to identify people involved in illegal activity, and to document police actions, just as the law allows for.

The focus here is all on the actual purpose of the recording. If the intent of the police department is not to record legal protesters with the intent of identifying them, then it’s legal for the officers to have their cameras on.

The way the law is written, it’s all based on the intent of the police department at the time they make the recording. If the department makes the recording with the intent of using the footage to only identify criminals, then all of the body cameras can be on.

Furthermore, with some groups like #DISRUPTJ20 and anarchist groups saying that they are going to shut down the inauguration, there’s reason for police officers to believe that there will be criminal activity at the Inauguration Day protests specifically. That’s as good a reason as ever to keep the cameras on.

In my years of working in law enforcement and being around lawyers, I’ve noticed that they are frequently either ignorant about the law, or they intentionally lie about what the law says. When nobody challenges their misinformation, pretty soon it starts to spread around and be accepted as fact. I can’t say for sure that the ACLU is intentionally trying to mislead people here, but I can tell you that they are wrong.

Let’s see if we can spread this to more people than the ACLU reaches with their nonsense.

UPDATE: DC police are mandating cameras to be on. Click HERE for more info.

Why do you think the ACLU is spreading misinformation about the law? Please let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

  • Jean Meyer

    I don’t understand the issue. If they have no plans to be violent and otherwise unlawful, why fight it? This will help their innocent selves will it not?

  • Linda Jean

    Only someone who is planning on breaking the law would be afraid of body cameras!

    • harry

      that’s why officers go after cell camera all the time

      • Steven Smith

        If someone is going to document the evidence of someone resisting arrest, then it’s both legal, and expected, that police will collect that evidence.
        If you film someone fighting with police trying to avoid being cuffed, and the cops see you doing so [whether you’re screaming at them that you are or not], then your phone can be confiscated for them to collect that evidence. You’ll get it back, evidence intact, once they have it. If they mess with the stuff on it, then file a complaint/lawsuit, to be sure, but in the meantime it is the prerogative of police to collect evidence.

  • CarolinaCries

    They DEMANDED cameras to hold the police accountable. But when what we KNEW was going to happen, happened, they want them off. I said from day 1 be careful what you wish for concerning the cameras. It may just vindicate the officers and show exactly how bad criminals behave when confronted by police. Now they aren’t such a good idea to them..can’t imagine why. LOL

    • Mina17

      Exactly. 100% correct. They only want the body cams to record what the police do in response to a criminal act, without the actual criminal act being recorded to show why the police response was justified.

  • Royal Stanley

    I trust the ACLU about as much as I trust Barry Soetoro and that is 0. In North Carolina we had a ACLU lawyer running for the NC Senate (Deborah Ross) and she was a Killary clone. The ACLU don’t want the police to do their jobs as they were sworn to do. The ACLU needs to be put on the domestic terrorist list as they are as bad as the BLM.

  • Yankeefan

    and in my time reading stories involving cops, they are frequently wrong or do not know the law either. Filming cops in public is not a suspicious act but that has not stopped cops from stating the opposite. Then there is the, I do not know what is going on so I must detain you to find out if there is anything going on in order to justify the detainment based on not knowing what’s going on. Or the ever popular….when a cop asks for ID, you must show it. Nope, papers are not required just because. The law decides when I have to turn ID over and lets be clear, the SCOTUS has already issued a ruling that allows for cops to be reasonably mistaken about the law. Go look up the ruling involving the man stopped with 1 tail light out. I believe that was the case. The cops were wrong but the high court allowed them the….ignorance is a defense, defense. Heien V. State of North Carolina is the case. So, spare me the lawyers do not know the law bit.

    • m.bluth

      You seem like really smart are you like a lawyer or something?

  • James S.

    Just a note to the ACLU, and to others who obviously are in the dark on this, body cams do not run constantly, they are only turned on when a situation requires recording for legal purposes, so this tells me that a lot of people are just blindly jumping on the bandwagon not knowing a damn thing about this….as usual, stupidity rules……

  • Primskin

    Police agencies don’t take orders or instruction from the ACLU. What reason did commanding officers give for making their officers turn off their body cams? Did anyone even reach out to them for an answer? If their answer is because of what the ACLU claimed then I’d be more concerned with the fact that the agencies tasked with enforcing the laws aren’t even aware of what the laws are. The only time a body cam does not benefit the officer is when an officer is doing something they’re not supposed to be doing. Who gives a shit what the ACLU claims? Let’s focus on the people actually in change of making this decision. Unreal

  • SrAgri

    If I were a protester, I’d want the cameras on. Cameras make things safer for everybody and both sides tend to have better interpersonal skills when they know they are being recorded.

    “In my years of working in law enforcement and being around lawyers, I’ve noticed that they are frequently either ignorant about the law, or they intentionally lie about what the law says.”
    You have to admit that this is a very ironic statement for a police officer. I have had police officers lie to me on a couple of occasions, either through ignorance or malice.