Here’s a YouTube video, recorded by a private citizen, of a group of Fargo Police Officers confronting and then eventually arresting (with the use of a tazer) a group of loud, profane drunks.
Warning, there is copious profanity and no small amount of homophobic slurs from the drunks.
These cops deserve our thanks. Not just for putting up with this kind of stupidity, which they do, or for giving the one of these obnoxious losers a thorough tasing (which he richly deserved) but for allowing a private citizen standing in plain sight of the proceedings (though well out of the way of the officers doing their jobs) to record it without harassment.
Not so long ago a teenager in Wahpeton was arrested (police report here) for walking up to an on-duty police officer with a camera and asking him a question. After much public outcry, the officer was suspended and ordered to undergo training.
Nationally, there has been a sort of “war on photography” which has had police threatening, and even arresting, on-lookers recording them during arrests.
That is wrong.
We give the police a large amount of power, and when they exercise that power out in the public there’s nothing wrong with recording them to ensure that any abuses of that power are well-documented. Put another way, the police should be transparent in the exercise of their power, and the public shouldn’t be subject to threats or arrest for exercising transparency.
The Fargo Police handled the situation properly. They went about their business, and ignored the citizen recording them from a safe distance. And should be glad of the transparency. After all, at least one of the drunks in the video repeatedly threatened a lawsuit. He’ll have less of a case with this thorough documentation of events.