Sunday, July 30, 2006

Don't take that camera to town

Neftaly Cruz was arrested by Philadelphia police for taking a picture of police arresting a drug dealer with his mobile phone camera.

"[The police officer] opened up the gate and Neffy was coming down and he went up to Neffy, pulled him down, had Neffy on the car and was telling him, 'You should have just went in the house and minded your own business instead of trying to take pictures off your picture phone,'" said [neighbour] Gerrell Martin.

Cruz said police told him that he broke a new law that prohibits people from taking pictures of police with cell phones.

"They threatened to charge me with conspiracy, impeding an investigation, obstruction of a investigation. ... They said, 'You were impeding this investigation.' (I asked,) "By doing what?' (The officer said,) 'By taking a picture of the police officers with a camera phone,'" Cruz said.


"There is no law that prevents people from taking pictures of what anybody can see on the street," said Larry Frankel of the American Civil Liberties Union. "I think it's rather scary that in this country you could actually be taken down to police headquarters for taking a picture on your cell phone of activities that are clearly visible on the street."

Cruz was not charged. After being held for an hour, he was told by the police that he was being released because their supervisor wasn't on duty.

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