RTDNA joins court brief supporting videojournalist

March 20, 2017 04:30

RTDNA has joined the National Press Photographers Association and five dozen other journalism organizations in filing a "friend of the court" brief with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, supporting the First Amendment rights of a videojournalist arrested during an Occupy Wall Street protest.

Douglas Higginbotham, a professional freelance videojournalist, was covering the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park in New York on November 15, 2011. To get a better angle, he climbed on top of a phone booth. When the police ordered him to get down, Higginbotham says he was trying to comply with the order but was pulled from the phone booth by force and arrested anyway. He was charged with disorderly conduct, a charge that was later dismissed. He filed a civil suit, saying the police retaliated against him for filming a violent arrest during the protest. The police moved to dismiss the suit, and while the court did say “the First Amendment protects the right to record police officers performing their duties in a public space, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions,” the judge dismissed the case. Higginbotham has appealed.

In the brief, the organizations state, "since the existence of a First Amendment right to record police activity in public places was a necessary predicate to the holding that is now on appeal, this Court can—and should—make an unambiguous declaration that the constitutional right articulated by the district court in this case is clearly established."

You can read the full brief here.