From 2005 until 2008, I lived just across the state line below Memphis. The difference between Memphis and Horn Lake, where I lived, was not always visible when you crossed the state line. There were not always signs, “Welcome to Memphis.” There was no state line sign except on the freeway. But there were clearly differences. Crime was one of them. So was law enforcement. My son lived in Memphis. There were horror stories.
The police in Horn Lake had a good reputation locally. The police in Memphis did not.
If you are on a public street and take pictures or video of Memphis Police with your cell phone, you could end up in the back of a squad car and your pictures could be deleted.
ABC 24 News photographer Casey Monroe said that’s what happened to him Sunday morning. Police never charged Monroe with a crime, but this could happen to anyone with a cell phone camera.
Monroe said police went too far outside Thai Bistro Restaurant in downtown Memphis that morning, and that they violated his rights.
As police were giving the restaurant’s owner, Loy Bouaphaypengerprachan, a ticket for parking illegally, Monroe went to see what was going on and started taking pictures of the parking ticket fiasco.
The owner told abc24.com, “I think he was doing what a regular citizen would do if they see a situation that’s happening they’re trying to evidence.”
Monroe said he was “just trying to document the situation going on.”
Although he was on public property, Monroe said he was told by police, “‘you can’t be taking pictures of us.’”
Monroe was put in the back of the squad car. When he was released, he said he realized one of the officers had deleted all the video and photos he took.
According to attorney Ross Samson, “There’s no law out there that said officers can grab your phone and delete what they want at will,” adding your phone is your personal property.
Cameras weren’t allowed inside when Monroe went to Internal Affairs, but the photographer said, “I feel they had no right to delete my pictures and video on my personal property and company property.”
Across the United States, the police’s war on cell phones is escalating. This is a sign that we are losing our liberties. It is also a sign that we are in a position to fight back.
Hooray for YouTube.