Congressman bans cameras, cops commit armed robbery

By William R. Toler

In a shocking display of police state tactics, an Ohio Congressman banned and had cameras confiscated from individuals attending his town hall meeting.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) allegedly had signs placed in front of the venue banning cameras. After some attendees failed to obey the signs, police officers went through the audience to take them away.

The story was first brought to my attention by Carlos Miller at Photography is Not a Crime. (Click the link to see the crime happen.)

The amature videographers asserted their rights to the cops, but to no avail. An officer told one of the individuals the ban was “to protect the constituents.” The videographer stood his ground saying, “I’m well within my rights” after being asked “Are we gonna do this easy way? Or the hard way?” After protesting a few seconds more, the camera was stolen by the officer.

The officer then walked over to another person with a camera and attempted to steal it as well. “It’s not against the law to film this,” she said. “Yes it is,” the officer replied. “That’s what I’ve been told.”

Why should there be a “hard way?”

The officers were carrying out an unlawful order, committing armed robbery, clearly violating the Fourth Amendment. For those who need a refresher on that amendment, it reads as follows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The property of these citizens was clearly taken without a warrant. And, since the officers had guns, it makes it armed robbery. Another appalling fact is that the officer thought there was a law against recording a public meeting.

Citizens have a right to record public officials in a public place in a public meeting. Not only were the First and Fourth Amendments of these people violated, but the police action was illegal according to Ohio Sunshine Laws:

Audio and video recording of a public meeting cannot be prohibited, but public bodies are permitted to establish reasonable rules regulating the use of recording equipment, such as requiring equipment to be silent, unobtrusive, self-contained, and self-powered to limit interference with the ability of others to hear, see, and participate in the meeting.

What’s even more shocking is that a google search of the topic shows no mainstream media coverge even though two television cameras were present. Not one of the three television stations has the story on their webiste.

However, that hasn’t stopped the news and criticism. The videos of the incident has gone viral across the internet. Disgruntled constituents and non-constituents alike have taken Mr. Chabot to task for his actions on his multiple Facebook accounts. However, some have been taken down. Even I took the chance to chastise the politician. “Republicans usually argue for open government. This, sir, is a departure from that stance.”

Rep. Chabot and the officers should be brought up on civil rights violations as well as armed robbery and violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Kudos go to the man and woman who stood up for their rights.

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0 Responses to Congressman bans cameras, cops commit armed robbery

  1. Amazing! The cop is not enforcing a law he is just enforcing an edict given to him by a bureaucrat.
    For starters they need to be sued under 42 USC 1983 (Deprivation of civil rights under color of law or authority)

    Chabot and the pigs present are criminal scum.

    What other illegal act would this cop commit if told to do so?

    I would have told him I was part of the press because everyone is these days.

    • color of law a legal term that if I remember correctly is to say intent of law that is strictly the domain of a judge to determain the intent of a law but because of the unrestrained nature of our police they continualy exspand their powers this person living of tax payers that gave such direction should be fired and the truth about facism in the Republican party should be told we all know the dems. are basicaly commie rats but NEO-CONS are just as bad and for the cop fired no pension and time in jail

  2. life in the U.S.A., unfortunately we are becoming more of a police state all the time

    • People need to wake up. We have BEEN a police state for longer than I have been alive. What do you call Abraham Lincoln’s conversion of the Republic from a Federalism to one of Nationalism? What do you call the President writing law for past 70 years in what are called executive orders? What do you call 200 plus alphabet soup agencies writing law rather than congress? We are way past “becoming more” of a police state. We have been one for a long long time.

  3. Adam

    This sad we are losing more and more our freedom is like a huge being lapped upon by the waters of evetual oppresion how long are we to except this situation

  4. angry fool

    boycott Ohio

  5. I have been watching the media report on so many different situations that are clearly unlawful on the law enforcement side. Beating defenseless, homeless people, prohibiting people the right to assemble peacefully, be careful what you say on your Facebook page, there are so many no camera/camcorder zones and list goes on. This elite group is so out of control that it is scary to think that if WE NEED THEIR HELP, we very well may become the bigger victims than we were prior to them showing up!
    How long are we going to sit by and let this happen? Many of us are fearful we will be the only one standing up and therefore alone and getting a horrific treatment. The rest of the world is asleep because they are glad they have their sports, alcohol, and drugs to keep them preoccupied while our country is slowing circling like a whirlpool, only to end up down the drain and never more to be seen again…

  6. david sherrod

    is it ok to dissagree or will it get a bunch of shit from every one? i have light sensitive eyes and i don’t like flash pics in my face. and why would you want to bring a camera to a town meeting. would a head full of good ideas and good questions be better?

    • OK, I understand where you are coming from. I am a photographer and I do all that I can to NOT use a flash because, first, I like natural lighting because there is less shadows, but second, I am not big on the flash “burns” in the eye either.
      Sorry to say though, it is part of going out into the public. I would love it if no one ever smoked around me. I know that is not going to happen. If I were to go into a casino, there are tons of smokers their. So if I choose to go there, I have to tolerate the atmosphere. It is not nice, but it is the way it is.
      My issue with not allowing cameras or camcorders in there, including regular media being able to do coverage the same way, is that it gives the appearance/or proof in a sense, that there is something to hide. If someone says something incorrectly, if it is not being filmed, it can be denied. A town hall meeting with a congressman would bring a lot of interest and therefore if there is a crowd, the media will want to cover it. Cameras are a logical tool for them to use.
      I believe that in this case, with this town hall meeting, taking the cameras and such away is stealing. I am sorry that you have physical issues with flash. They can specify in the meeting no flash photography. That was not the issue. It was not the flash that was the issue. I think we all know that.
      The more that we set up rules, boundaries and laws, the worse society will get. At this point, I doubt a day goes by that each of us does not break at least one law. I say less rules/laws and such and more common sense!

  7. David, the cameras that were seized were camcorders, with no flash.

  8. please say there is a lawsuit coming…just like here in atlanta, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MGQl77I6fU he suid and got 40,000 for taking his camera…

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