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The Cell Phone as a Tool of Resistance

Written by Gary North on October 24, 2012

Think of the cell phone as unleashing a million Rodney King videos.

As citizens grab their cell phones to make YouTube-ready copies of bureaucrats’ unconstitutional imposition of force, the bureaucrats are going on the defensive.

There is a kind of cold war going on. Every time the bureaucrats impose new restrictions on cell phones, cell phone users escalate.

In Austin, Texas, there is an organization known as Peaceful Streets. It advocates the use of cell phone videos to place limits on local police.

The police have imposed a 50-foot barrier on anyone taking a video of a police officer.

The problem is telephoto lenses and software. The police do not have a solution to it yet.

Following the third arrest this year of Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler for legally filming police activity Friday, Sept. 21st, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has issued a statement calling the Austin Police Department’s policy on “interference with public duties” unconstitutional. The policy was issued August 28, immediately following Buehler’s second arrest.

On Monday, Sept. 24th, NPPA General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher wrote a letter to Austin Chief of Police Art Acevedo on this matter.

“Aside from being overly broad and vague the APD policy leaves far too much to the discretion of its officers, whereby they can construe almost anything as ‘interference,’” said Osterreicher in the statement. “Under these rules officers are free to create a chilling effect upon far more speech (photography/recording is deemed a form of speech for First Amendment protections) than is necessary to achieve a substantial government interest—that being actual interference with a police officer in the execution of his duties—and would thus be held to be unconstitutional.”

Buehler and Peaceful Streets volunteer Sarah Dickerson were arrested early Friday morning while videotaping a DUI stop in progress on West 6th Street and charged with interference with public duties. They were approximately 30 feet away from the officers and suspect when Officer Patrick Oborski, who arrested Buehler last New Year’s in the controversial incident that spearheaded the Peaceful Streets Project, shined a light in Buehler’s face and yelled at him to back up. Both Buehler and Dickerson moved backwards while Buehler repeatedly asked “how far?” receiving no reply. Sgt. Adam Johnson then illogically ordered them to walk to the rear of the parked police cars, meaning they would have to walk toward Oborski and the suspect rather than away from them. Buehler and Dickerson continued moving backwards while Buehler asked for clarification on where they could stand, until they were approximately 90 feet away from the suspect. Johnson told them to join the Peaceful Streets volunteers standing on the other side of Oborski and the suspect or leave, to which Buehler replied they were leaving when Johnson arrested both Buehler and Dickerson.

Technology tends to decentralize power. As it gets cheaper, more people can afford it.

Bureaucrats fear pubic exposure. A YouTube video that goes viral is a terror to bureaucrats.

A smart phone is the Saturday night special for people who resist bureaucrats.

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9 thoughts on “The Cell Phone as a Tool of Resistance

  1. Anonymous Guest says:

    Pigs make themselves enemies.

  2. "Bureaucrats fear pubic exposure." Even more than public exposure to be sure! Awesome typo. Immature laughter maybe, but I found that really funny. LOL!

  3. adamenochnoah says:

    Here is another form of resistance. In the state I live in, Romney has a overwhelming lead so I am able to vote my conscience without damaging his chance of being elected unless my candidate wins. With that in mind, I just cast my vote for Gary Johnson & Jim Gray, & I voted for the only 2 other Libertarians on the ticket. On all with the exception of one, I voted None of the Above for the Democrats & Republicans. The one Republican that I voted for was to replace the Democrat David Scott in the Congressional House of Representatives because I regard him as one of the most corrupt Representatives in DC, & voting Republican was the only real option to try to unseat him…

    As a former life-long Republican, I can now tell everyone that it felt really good to kick the corrupt two-party system out the door, even though I have only one vote to be counted…

  4. Apple has the solution to the problem. Starting with the iPhone 5 (and anyone who upgrades their older phone to ios 6), the camera in the phone can now be disabled remotely by location, without the owners consent. It won't be long before the government implements this technology to stop video and photo recording at political events, riots, civil disobedience, and perhaps even such highly localized unplanned events such as arrests (Imagine a police cruiser outfitted with the technology to disable the phones – think of the licensing fees Apple will collect on all those squad cars).

    Think I'm making this up? Read more on the highly politicized fringe wingnut web site operated by Ziff-Davis:

    and other sites have additional commentary:

    I'm so glad I have an Android phone.

  5. Blair Franconia, NH says:

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ___Edmund Burke 1729___1797.

  6. Texas Chris says:

    A good cop need not fear the camera. "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about," remember, piggies?

  7. Public_Citizen says:

    It won't be long before phones are equipped with the necessary sensors to determine quite accurately the distance to an object being filmed. The courts will also be addressing the issue of what distance constitutes an interference with law enforcement and what distance constitutes a citizen engaging in lawful pursuit of constitutionally protected activity. At that point the police will no longer have the arbitrary ability to assert that a citizen is interfering with their activities without some sort of distance measuring and recording device on their person.
    This gives a whole new definition to the term "personal space".

  8. I'll bet bureaucrats fear pubic exposure! (reread next-to-last line) 😉

  9. If elected I will sponsor legislation in Texas to clarify that recording police is lawful, and to specify a minimum distance from which to do it. Grant Rostig for State Senator District 21. Pol. Adv. Grant Rostig