This is a few days old, but still interesting...
Man says Jersey City cops confiscated camera because he took photos of cars in police lot; complaint filed
Published: Friday, February 10, 2012, 2:08 PM
Updated: Friday, February 10, 2012, 2:09 PM
Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal
A man whose camera was taken by Jersey City police after he photographed vehicles in a police parking lot has filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney General's Office's Civil Rights Division.
"On Friday, January 27th, 2011, I was subject to an illegal search and subsequent seizure of my property (Canon Rebel) by a contingent of Jersey City police officers from the West District at approximately 2 p.m., under the guise of authority," says the complaint signed by Anthony C. Hardy, 46.
Police told The Jersey Journal yesterday they had received a copy of the complaint, which is dated Jan. 31, 2012 and sent by Hardy, who listed his address as a post office box in North Bergen. Hardy could not be reached for comment.
In the complaint, which references the lot at Communipaw and Monticello avenues, Hardy says he initially refused to hand over his camera, and then only did so because cops threatened to arrest him.
He says he was on the sidewalk photographing "non-duty cars" driven by police department employees that he believed had violations such as single license plates, tinted windows or windows partially blocked by PBA shields or placards.
Hardy said when an officer approached him he explained as much before walking toward his car and realizing the officer was following him. He says he went back to "alleviate any concerns," but the officer summoned additional units.
The officer "demanded identification which was produced due to an imminent threat of arrest," Hardy says, adding that he was surrounded by five officers, "all engaged in attempts to fabricate pretenses for arrest."
Hardy said he reiterated that he was only photographing non-duty vehicles to document violations, but a supervising officer arrived and said he "would be arrested if I did not surrender my camera."
Hardy went on to say that "At no time did I consent to allow said officers to review my photos as they did so without my permission and expressed consent."
"A person has a right to photograph or video tape what is in public view, so long as the person is entitled to be in the location he or she is filming from," said Ed Barocan, legal director for the ACLU of New Jersey. "The police cannot tell someone to stop taking photographs and cannot seize their camera if they have done nothing wrong."
A spokesman for the police department said the lot belongs to Verizon, but police are allowed use a portion.