Denver cops finally release body-cam video showing they arrested Indy editor Susan Greene for doing her job — taking photos of scene where officers had detained a near-naked man on the street. This is pretty clearly a First Amendment violation. #copolitics https://t.co/9XGuL6PpkP— Michael Littwin (@mike_littwin) August 29, 2018
Body camera footage released this week in Denver, Colorado, shows a local journalist being improperly detained and treated rudely by officers, including being subjected to inappropriate gender-biased banter from the cops.
Susan Greene, the editor of The Colorado Independent, said she stopped on the side of a road in July to capture images of police dealing with a nearly-naked black man.
“Given Denver’s history of uniformed officers harassing, hurting, or killing folks, sometimes without offering them medical help, it is part of my job to take notice of any questionable treatment of people in law enforcement’s custody,” she wrote for the publication in July.
The officers at the scene were not happy with Greene’s presence there and attempted to stop her from documenting the event by telling her the photographs she took would violate the man’s HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rights. Greene told officers she was a journalist.
“There’s also a First Amendment. Have you heard of it?” she can be heard saying on the bodycam footage.
Greene attempted to get an image of one officer’s badge number. When she tried to take the picture, the officer said, “Step away or you’ll be arrested for interference.” That’s when they decided to handcuff Greene.
Greene alleged that officers hurt her when they put the cuffs on, and indeed images from her post at The Colorado Independent seem to confirm an injury occurred. Officers in the video tried to tell Greene to “stop resisting” — and at one point, two officers told her to “act like a lady” while they were detaining her.
Journalist handcuffed, told to 'act like a lady' for filming incident. Police detained #SusanGreene, a reporter-editor for The Colorado Independent, for taking photos as they attended to nearly naked man on sidewalk. She was handcuffed, held in police car https://t.co/hKTr3Rgi2K— Paula Neal Mooney (@PAULANEALMOONEY) August 29, 2018
“Are you f***ing kidding me? Act like a lady?” Greene can be heard saying on the video.
Her indignation is well-placed. As Greene herself said, reflecting on her experience after watching the bodycam footage, it’s difficult to understand what exactly the cops meant by that comment.
“How exactly should a lady act when being wrongly detained on a public sidewalk for exercising First Amendment rights?” she opined this week.
This incident transcends two issues. On the one hand, it showcases how the officers in the video tried to suppress and keep from public eye their actions while dealing with a black individual. It is not a crime to film an officer in a public setting, whether you’re a journalist or just a concerned citizen, and Greene’s First Amendment rights were clearly violated.
A second aspect of this video showcases the inappropriate way that officers treated Greene on the basis of her gender. While women elsewhere have been wrongly treated with physical harm by officers, telling Greene to “act like a lady” was also out of line and indicative of the misogynistic viewpoints of the officers involved.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Getty Images, Jeremy Woodhouse