Monday, January 19, 2015

The Power of Video; Instructions on how to use it safely

This morning January 9, at about 9:00 am, I walked into the McDonalds at 119 N Wabash. I encountered a young man of about 23. He was eating and emotionally agitated and crying as he ate, he was complaining because he did not get something with his food. And asking people for help. He suddenly knocked a chair over.

I cautiously walked over to him and asked him what was wrong? I asked him to talk to me. He tried. He had clearly, broken down. He was mentally ill, agitated and I knew by now the police had been called.

He was incoherent, he did not get what he wanted, he needed money. I asked him how I can help. He wanted two dollars. I asked him to sit down and not be disruptive and I and I would help him. I wanted to get him out of the restaurant before the police came and they dragged him off to jail. This is the fate of the mentally ill who have a crisis in public.

I got my oatmeal and brought him my change. He had calmed down. I wanted to talk to him and walk him out of the McDonald’s before the police came. I told him he had to calm down to please hurry eating and I would walk him out.

We continued to talk, two women officers came in. I explained to them, he got a bit excited, but he was ok now. I was just about to walk him out. He was fine now.

One of the officers seemed to accept that. The other officer asked for his I.D. at that point I knew, I had lost. He stood up and he was looking for his ID. Just then, two male officers walked in. A salt and pepper team. Pepper took one look at the kid and said “We're just locking him up". Salt grabbed his wrist and he resisted, saying he had done nothing.

He had knocked over a chair and acted belligerently, and that is prompted the manager to call the police. What he had done was indicative of a mental health crisis. And legal policy is clear regarding mentally ill persons subject to police emergency detention as stated below:

"(a) Authority for the police to take mentally ill and mentally retarded persons into custody in emergency situations should be statutorily defined and limited to the following two classes of persons:

(i) those whose conduct represents a danger to themselves or others; and,
(ii) those who appear so gravely disabled as to be unable to provide themselves with the basic necessities of life.”

My man clearly had exhibited (a)-(i). But I had him calmed down. He was complying to the requests of the women officers, but the testosterone arrived, then amped it up. I was more than a little pissed. But I only talk to the kid to try to calm him down. I knew the more he struggled the more justification the police had to maximize their efforts to restrain him.

Given the present climate, and because of how quick Officer Pepper was to decide to arrest this young man I started shooting his arrest with my phone. Why, because it is necessary that the police know they are under surveillance just and their conduct is be scrutinized by the public. Justice is a partnership.

I try to adhere to an clear code of personal conduct. No declaration of my rights. No verbal engagement with the officer about how they are doing their job. When you do, it is the road to disorderly conduct and a justifiable arrest.

Stand back, do not make any contact with officers. If they move back toward you, move to another position. It they try to obstruct you with anything, move to another position.

Senate Bill 1342 passed the Senate unanimously in April and the House on a 106-7 vote Dec. 3, 2014. It was sent to Quinn on Monday, Dec 9, 2014.

It allows you to record law enforcement officers on duty because it establishes that, in the words of the ACLU, “on-duty police officers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversations in public places.”

What the new law doesn't let you do is secretly audio or video record interactions in which one of the parties has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Talking directly to the officer regarding him doing his duty would have to be contested. DON’T

Do not reply or react to any actions such as blocking the camera, engage in no conversation. Keep your distance and continue filming.

After a number of minutes, they took the young man outside. He was setting himself up for a beatdown and actually kicked Officer Pepper, who ordered his arrest. The police restrained him in the snow on the ground outside McDonalds.

I did not follow because there are cameras in McDonalds, And I wanted those on me. I continued shooting through the window, cautious of not making Skip Gate’s mistake of following the police outside onto the street. Inside there was a crowd, cameras, property to damage that might require liability. They did not mess with me inside did not mean I was necessarily following the out the door. I did eventually go out, careful to not make eye contact or be baited into a conversation.

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