Should Police Body Cams Be Shut Down For The Women's March?

by
Sameera Ehteram
“We are concerned what they will do with the data,” says Monica Hopkins-Maxwell of the District of Columbia ACLU.

Donald Trump might be the most notorious president-elect in recent U.S. history and because of him, Washington, D.C., is bracing itself for a crowd of 900,000 people on the Inauguration Day, many of them protesters, according to D.C. Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Now, here's something to chew upon: Trump’s inauguration and the protests on the following day will probably not be recorded by police body cams.

There's a theory going around, attributed to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that the action protects protesters from surveillance.

“ACLU Demands That Body Cams Are Turned Off During Inauguration While They Intend To Record Police,” claimed the headline on a site called Law Officer.

ACLU, itself, denies the claim:

"It’s not an ACLU 'demand,' it’s actually D.C. law,” reads the organization’s statement. “True, the ACLU of D.C. supported and encouraged adoption of that law, but the wider District of Columbia community as represented by its city council agreed with us. And that law is not absolute; in its full form it says that: 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.

"We supported that law for very good reasons," the ACLU  went on to say. "There is a long history of law enforcement compiling dossiers on peaceful activists exercising their First Amendment rights in public marches and protests, and using cameras to send an intimidating message to such protesters: 'We are WATCHING YOU and will REMEMBER your presence at this event.'"

Read More: Photos Advertising Thousands Of ‘Bikers For Trump’ Are Probably Fake

But what if it gets ugly?

 

 

Civil rights groups are concerned the police will most likely violate their rights during the protests and, therefore, there is a need for recording the events.

D.C. Police say their policy is to only record when there is a police activity and they do not consider monitoring protests an activity.

“We are concerned what they will do with the data,” says Monica Hopkins-Maxwell of the District of Columbia ACLU.

Ironically, at the same time the ACLU demands that the police not record their activities, they have launched a new app called “Mobile Justice” that encourages others to record law enforcement.

Several anti-Trump protests have been planned for right after the inauguration, the most important being the Women's March On Washington bringing together droves of women from around the country.

Read More: All You Need To Know About The Women's March on Washington

Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters

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