A proposed state law that could make it illegal to film cell phone videos of police got the green light by lawmakers to move forward following a statehouse committee hearing Thursday in Columbus.
Members of the House Criminal Justice Committee voted to approve the measure despite more than 100 civil rights, first amendment groups and individuals testifying against the measure since it was first introduced. House Bill 22 would expand Ohio obstruction of justice laws by including failure to follow a lawful order from police or diverting a law enforcement officer’s attention.
People could be charged if they seek to interrupt, “disrupt, hinder, impede, or interfere” with the officers performing their duties, provoke physical responses from the officers or harass the officers. Rod Skirvin, President of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association said, “I don’t think that there is any problem with recording the police. I think everyone should be able to do that, but I don’t think you should get in their face to do it,” he said.
Anyone who comes within 30 feet of an officer after being warned to stay away can be arrested. “I think they are trying to hide something, like you don’t want people recording. Why, if you not doing nothing wrong?” Dushont Morrison of Fort Lauderdale said.
“It’s a balancing test — people have absolute first amendment rights to protest. What people don’t have is a right to either attack law enforcement to either loot or to impede in an investigation,” said Eric Schwartzreich, a criminal defense attorney. According to the bill, offenders would be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, they would be fined $500, and could face up to 60 days in jail.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: TAMPA BAY
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