Townhall Meeting Censorship

This is a discussion on Townhall Meeting Censorship within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Originally Posted by ArkhmAsylm - Why didn't the LE agency in charge of security there consider whether the 'no cameras' edict was legal before proceding ...

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  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArkhmAsylm View Post
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    Why didn't the LE agency in charge of security there consider whether the 'no cameras' edict was legal before proceding with these confiscations? Under what law were their actions supported?
    It was Cincinnati PD off duty detail (an off duty officer(s) was providing security paid for by the event) and it was treated as a private event.
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  3. #17
    Member Array Gforty's Avatar
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    Per the phone interview podcast on WLW-Radio, the Congressman has done a 180 on this topic for future Town Hall meetings.
    According to Chabot, others in Congress have done it before and this was not the first time for him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gforty View Post
    Per the phone interview podcast on WLW-Radio, the Congressman has done a 180 on this topic for future Town Hall meetings.
    So he says. This does not mean, however, that a lawyer (which Chabot is) and congressman who has sworn to uphold the Constitution is not guilty of gross failure to do so. If he reforms his ways, great, but that does not get him off the hook any more than a reformed criminal is off the hook for his criminal deeds even though he has repented. I am not suggesting Chabot is a criminal - its an analogy.
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    Distinguished Member Array ArkhmAsylm's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ArkhmAsylm
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    Why didn't the LE agency in charge of security there consider whether the 'no cameras' edict was legal before proceding with these confiscations? Under what law were their actions supported?
    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    It was Cincinnati PD off duty detail (an off duty officer(s) was providing security paid for by the event) and it was treated as a private event.
    So an officer stops upholding the law because he's paid privately??
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  6. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArkhmAsylm View Post




    So an officer stops upholding the law because he's paid privately??
    Pretty much. When officers work off duty jobs they ( like most other people) do what their employer pays them to do. That is not necessarily enforcing the law. If they are hired for security they enforce the policies of their employer so long as those policies are not illegal. The reason many hire police for security work is it reduces their civil liability exposure.

    As far as the camera ban goes, I am curious what the legal arguments are. This is not the only situation where "media" are allowed cameras and private citizens are not. Tru TV ( formerly Court TV) routinely puts cameras in court rooms where none of us would be permitted to take a camera. Those are public officials in a public building carrying out their official duties. Heck, the Supreme Court every few years discusses if they will allow cameras in to cover the arguments made before them. So far the answer has been no. Cameras are not allowed in the visitor galleries at the U.S. Capitol either. So obviously the argument that he is public official in a public building is not enough.

    I am wondering. Did he get the venue for free or did he have to pay to rent the place? If he rented it was it paid for with public funds or campaign funds? Unless I am mistaken if he paid for it with campaign money instead of our tax dollars he can make just about any rules he likes.
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  7. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArkhmAsylm View Post




    So an officer stops upholding the law because he's paid privately??
    Sorta kinda... he's no longer working for the public interests as a police officer. He's working as private security for Chabot.
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  8. #22
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    Originally Posted by ArkhmAsylm

    So an officer stops upholding the law because he's paid privately??
    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    Sorta kinda... he's no longer working for the public interests as a police officer. He's working as private security for Chabot.
    Looking at the photo in the news story the officer is wearing his full uniform, badge and gear. This would give most observers the impression that he is indeed working for the government. Also can private security confiscate property?

    Michael
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlr1m View Post
    Some in government believe that the first amendment only covers the recognized media. Not just ordinary individuals. This possibly is the case with this Congressman.
    Right. Freedom of the press is an individual right that we all possess. It's not limited to graduates of journalism schools (which didn't even exist at the time the Bill of Rights was ratified).

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlr1m View Post
    Looking at the photo in the news story the officer is wearing his full uniform, badge and gear. This would give most observers the impression that he is indeed working for the government. Also can private security confiscate property?

    Michael
    Just because it may give that impression does not make it so. My old department even allowed officers to use their take home marked cruisers while doing private security work. I don't know about the specifics in Ohio but in many states private security acting as an agent of the property owner ( or person renting a facility) can do anything the owner or renter can do. That includes allowing or prohibiting or restricting what items can be brought in and establishing a code of conduct for anyone who is attending.

    That means in simple terms they can tell you that if you want to stay you have to give them the camera and you can get it back when you leave, or you and your camera can leave. If you refuse in many places you can be charged with criminal trespass. Just like when a property owner tells you that you can't bring a gun into their business.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    Just because it may give that impression does not make it so. My old department even allowed officers to use their take home marked cruisers while doing private security work. I don't know about the specifics in Ohio but in many states private security acting as an agent of the property owner ( or person renting a facility) can do anything the owner or renter can do. That includes allowing or prohibiting or restricting what items can be brought in and establishing a code of conduct for anyone who is attending.

    That means in simple terms they can tell you that if you want to stay you have to give them the camera and you can get it back when you leave, or you and your camera can leave. If you refuse in many places you can be charged with criminal trespass. Just like when a property owner tells you that you can't bring a gun into their business.
    I agree with setting their own rules and restricting what is brought in. Do they also have the power to confiscate property? I would not allow a private citizen to take my property. If not does the city open themselves up to civil action by allowing police to wear their uniforms when working as private citizens?

    Michael

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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    I don't know if our definitions of "confiscate" are the same. What they can do is tell you that you must either conform to the code of conduct for the event (no cameras) or immediately leave. I would have to watch the videos again to see if it was an outright demand for the cameras to be surrendered (confiscation in my book) or if the people were being given the choice of turning over their cameras or leaving. If they are being given a choice I would not consider that confiscation. As far as the city's liability goes, IANAL but I think the city's liability is limited to training issues or if their equipment is somehow defective. If it was that big an exposure I don't think many departments would allow officers to do it.

    Overall I don't think we really have enough information to make a proper judgement on what happened. Like I said before if the venue was being provided free of charge by the local government or was rented with tax dollars there could be very different legal issues than if you or I rented it, or if it was rented with donated campaign funds.
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  13. #27
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    That is rather unfortunate, as generally, I think Steve does a decent job as a congressman, and is better than most other options in SW Ohio.

    I even got a nice letter from him, and a flag flown over the capitol, when I graduate boot camp (a high school friend was an aide for him)

    OP, I would be very interested in the response you get from his office, if you get one.
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  14. #28
    Distinguished Member Array ArkhmAsylm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    Pretty much. When officers work off duty jobs they ( like most other people) do what their employer pays them to do. That is not necessarily enforcing the law. If they are hired for security they enforce the policies of their employer so long as those policies are not illegal. The reason many hire police for security work is it reduces their civil liability exposure.

    As far as the camera ban goes, I am curious what the legal arguments are. This is not the only situation where "media" are allowed cameras and private citizens are not. Tru TV ( formerly Court TV) routinely puts cameras in court rooms where none of us would be permitted to take a camera. Those are public officials in a public building carrying out their official duties. Heck, the Supreme Court every few years discusses if they will allow cameras in to cover the arguments made before them. So far the answer has been no. Cameras are not allowed in the visitor galleries at the U.S. Capitol either. So obviously the argument that he is public official in a public building is not enough.

    I am wondering. Did he get the venue for free or did he have to pay to rent the place? If he rented it was it paid for with public funds or campaign funds? Unless I am mistaken if he paid for it with campaign money instead of our tax dollars he can make just about any rules he likes.
    Thanks for the responses, mcp & SIXTO.

    The bolded text by mcp would seem to confirm that an off-duty LEO performing as privately paid security cannot violate the law. I understand your point mcp about cameras in the courts & some governmental buildings, but those are really special situations unto themselves.

    One of the keys here is whether the school auditorium was in fact privately paid for & could be considered a private event. The officer confiscating cameras, especially with his official sounding warning of "we can do this easy, or hard," seems to put the weight of his uniform on the situation (the appearance of an official LEO duty.) Doing it 'hard' would implicate that the off-duty officer would arrest the offender if they didn't comply, no?

    I would think that if an offender were to violate the rules of a 'private event', the event security would only be able to order the person to put it away the offending device or leave the event. Am I mistaken?

    Nothing in these questions & comments should be construed as an attack on our LEOs. I firmly believe that it is our lawmakers & 'politicians' who really need to brush up on the laws & the rights afforded to the people of this country, for it seems that the political gamesmanship being employed at various levels of government is a big part of our problems.
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  15. #29
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    After reviewing the videos again.....
    In the second video at about 45 second the officer says " I am going to ask you to put that away."

    At the one minute twenty one second mark ( conveniently not subtitled) the officer says " It says that as you come in"

    At the one minute fifty seven second mark the officer tells the lady with the camera " They told you that cameras are not permitted in here.... for security reasons"

    As we have the video (at least from the i-phone) it would appear that the property was returned to it's owners after the event. It also appears that no attempt was made to erase the recordings.

    So what we have is two people who were given notice before they entered of what was prohibited behavior inside the venue that chose to ignore it. In at least the first case the officer made no attempt to confiscate the camera until after the person was asked to put it away and refused.

    The only information we have saying the venue was being paid for with tax dollars is the graphic in the second video. Would you consider the video to be from an unbiased source? I certainly wouldn't. Does anyone have any independant verification that it was paid for with tax dollars?

    As far as Alex Jones....... He might get something right now and then but he gets so much so wrong so often I rate him somewhere around the National Enquirer.
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  16. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    I don't know if our definitions of "confiscate" are the same. What they can do is tell you that you must either conform to the code of conduct for the event (no cameras) or immediately leave. I would have to watch the videos again to see if it was an outright demand for the cameras to be surrendered (confiscation in my book) or if the people were being given the choice of turning over their cameras or leaving. If they are being given a choice I would not consider that confiscation. As far as the city's liability goes, IANAL but I think the city's liability is limited to training issues or if their equipment is somehow defective. If it was that big an exposure I don't think many departments would allow officers to do it.

    Overall I don't think we really have enough information to make a proper judgement on what happened. Like I said before if the venue was being provided free of charge by the local government or was rented with tax dollars there could be very different legal issues than if you or I rented it, or if it was rented with donated campaign funds.
    Regardless of who was paying for the venue, that fact is quite irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that the Critter involved is on the public payroll. His every word is an official utterance unprotected by property rights of any sort. It is all in the public domain and the public has a right to record and transmit it. Particularly so as Congress has chosen to not go into an official recess during this present summer vacation period.

    That he was visiting with constituents only proves that he was acting in his official capacity as a public servant. Hence, to do what he did was reprehensible, and probably not lawful. The LEO /security staff might not have known better, but they were in the wrong as well.

    Oh, as to the comparison with exclusive rights to video in a courtroom, that is indeed a special situation comparable to Congress allowing only C_span in. It is necessary for decorum of the institution.

    While the Critter might feel that following a similar policy is necessary for the decorum of his meetings, not an unreasonable idea, there has to be something beyond his personal feelings to back up his decision. So, maybe if Congress has passed a law giving such a privilege to members he might be in the right. Or perhaps if state law allows the same, he might be in the right. However, I've not heard of any such thing. And extending the practice which takes place in the confines of a courtroom or the halls of Congress to some other venue seems a rather questionable notion, legally, constitutionally, except to those with rather authoritarian mind sets.

    The only justification I can see for the policy would revolve around whether or not allowing the public to video record is actually (factually) disruptive of the meeting. But then, there are a host of laws from disorderly conduct to unlawful disruption of a public meeting which might apply. Banning recording in anticipation that someone might be disruptive is a bit of overkill.
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