Philadelphia Police Arrest Student for Taking Photos of Traffic Stop


A photojournalism student was charged with obstruction of justice and resisting arrest after photographing Philadelphia police officers who made a traffic stop outside of his home, says the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Temple University junior Ian Van Kuyk was allegedly thrown to the ground and arrested while taking photographs of police for a class assignment. The National Press Photographers Association wrote to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey that “any police officer should know that photography on a public street is a First Amendment protected activity.”

A police department memo says that “all police personnel, while conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, should reasonably anticipate and expect to be photographed, videotaped and/or be audibly recorded by members of the general public or individuals temporarily detained.” It ordered officers not to interfere with the photographing, videotaping, or audio recording. Courts disagree on the extent to which the First Amendment creates a general right to record police activity in public.

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