Just Who Are They Protecting?
July 21, 2010 by Bob Livingston
For recording this video with his helmet camera of an irate and possibly out-of-control State Trooper, 25-year-old Maryland Air National Guard staff sergeant Anthony Graber is facing 16 years in prison.
Graber was cut off in traffic and stopped by the gun-wielding plainclothes officer after speeding down Interstate 95 in Maryland on his motorcycle. He was, rightly, charged with speeding. But state police didn’t like the fact that Graber posted his video on YouTube.
So in April state police raided his parents’ home in Abingdon, Md., and confiscated his camera, computer and external hard drives. Then he was indicted on a charge of violating state wiretap laws by recording the trooper.
Many of us were raised with the idea that the police are there to protect us. But the proliferation of hand-held recording devices is proving true what petty criminals, blacks and other minorities have maintained for years: All too often those sworn to protect us are nothing more than abusive, power-mad thugs with the authority of the state behind their actions.
And since the state doesn’t like it when its officers are made to look bad, the state is now twisting the original intent of wiretap laws to make everyone carrying a cell phone into a possible criminal.
Miami journalist Carlos Miller, who runs the blog “Photography Is Not a Crime” told ABC News he has documented at least 10 such arrests since he started keeping track in 2007. Miller himself has been arrested twice. One case he won on appeal and the other was thrown out after the officer twice failed to appear in court.
So what we are learning is it is perfectly okay for police officers to record their encounters with suspects using dash cameras in their patrol cars and hidden cameras in their interrogation rooms, but if a citizen being accosted by police or witnessing police abuse records the incident the state will treat him like he’s John Dillinger.
So much for the idea of “To protect and serve.”