Police Request Buffer When Making Arrests
The Austin Police Department is asking people to stay 50 to 60 feet away from an arrest after a cameraman was arrested last weekend for interfering with an arrest.
APD made the request to prevent cases such as Antonio Buehler’s, who was arrested while filming another APD arrest. Police say he was interfering, but Buehler says he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights. Constitutional law professor David Anderson at the University of Texas said each case presents too many variables to make a blanket judgment.
“They or any other citizen has a constitutional right to be in a public place, as long as they are on public property, and to take pictures of what’s transpiring in the public place,” Anderson said. “The limitation on that is that neither they nor anybody else has a right to interfere with the work of the police. So the question is that are they in fact interfering with the work.”
Buehler’s arrest was filmed by another member of Peaceful Streets, a volunteer group focused on ending “institutional violence” in Austin, according to their website. Video shows the person being arrested asking Buehler to stop filming. When the police urge Buehler to stop, he keeps taping, ignoring the police request.
This is Buehler’s second arrest for videotape interference. He says his group will still continue to document APD’s arrests.