A Baltimore police officer “forcibly escorted Baltimore Sun photo editor Chris Assaf away from the scene of a police-involved shooting on Feb. 21,” Robert Hamilton writes.
— Carrie Wells (@cwellssun) March 7, 2014
While photographing outside the police tape — which marked the established perimeter — an officer told him he would have to move across the street. Assaf protested, stating he was outside the established perimeter of the crime scene and he had every right to photograph from where he was standing.
While asking for the officer’s name, a second police officer grabbed Assaf and began pushing him across the street. Assaf on numerous occasions requested that the officer release him, saying that his rights were being violated. Baltimore Sun photographer Lloyd Fox witnessed and documented the scene. Baltimore Police said they are investigating the allegations.
Hamilton’s post includes a thorough photographic account of the incident.
Baltimore’s Police Department has a rich history of interfering with photography. The city has agreed to pay $2 million to Christopher Sharp, who said in a suit that police deleted a cellphone video he took of officers arresting his friend. In “guidance” related to that case, the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012 suggested “Officers should be advised not to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement activities or intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices.”
The department instituted new rules in 2012. And within hours, a “new video showed officers threatening to arrest a man near Cross Street Market in Federal Hill for taping an arrest.”
Last May, Makia Smith sued Baltimore police, claiming they beat her up “and smashed her camera for filming them beating up a man, telling her: ‘You want to film something bitch? Film this!’”
This past November, Baltimore police arrested Noah Scialom, who was covering a concert for Baltimore City Paper. After photographing some police officers, Scialom wrote, “I was, without warning, violently taken to the ground by Sgt. Wilson and my camera flew from my hand and bounced on the pavement. A knee was jabbing me in the back, and Sgt. Wilson was screaming for me to stop resisting as I lay there covered in police.”