Filming the Police as an Act of Resistance Remarks Given at the "Smartphoned" Symposium

njdiver

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Filming the Police as an Act of Resistance Remarks Given at the "Smartphoned" Symposium

Good morning everyone and thank you so much for having me here today. The last few years have seen an unprecedented rise in the public nature of acts of civilian recording of police officers. Think, for example, of the videos of the choking of Eric Garner on Staten Island or the shooting of Walter Scott in North Carolina. Each of those videos quickly became a part of the national conversation around police violence, revealing to privileged audiences the racialized nature of everyday police violence. Although the function of civilian recordings of the police in the public sphere is an important one, today I am going to talk less about the importance of videos of police conduct, and more about the act of filming itself – the act of taking out a smartphone and pointing it at a police officer who is doing police work in public. I am going to argue that the act of filming itself is an act of expression, protected by the First Amendment, whether or not a video is ever viewed after it is taken.

 

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