ACLU Files Amicus Brief on Right to Videotape Police – Cites My Case in Briefing

Today the Hawaii ACLU filed amicus brief on the right to videotape police and in the brief they mentioned the case of me being falsely arrested for filming police here on the Big Island:

Today, the ACLU of Hawaii submitted an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the case of Kahle v. Villaflor in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

In April 2010, Mitch Kahle was ejected from the Hawaii Senate Chambers after objecting to an unconstitutional prayer at the opening of Senate business.  Kevin Hughes was filming the objection, and when Kahle was ejected from the Senate Chambers, Hughes followed him outside.

Hughes continued to film the incident, and was assaulted by State officials.  As seen in Hughes’ video of the incident, Ben Villafor (the Sergeant at Arms) approached Hughes and punched Hughes’ video camera.  He then said something like, “Get that camera,” after which State officials surrounded and attacked Hughes (damaging his camera, sending him to the hospital, and trampling his First Amendment rights).

This is, unfortunately, part of a disturbing trend in Hawaii and nationwide, whereby law enforcement officers assault those who are exercising their First Amendment rights to videotape law enforcement officers.  You can read more about these incidents in our Amicus Brief, and you can learn more about your right to videotape law enforcement in our First Amendment Toolkit. If you have experienced threats or intimidation as a result of documenting law enforcement encounters in Hawaii, please contact us.

I snipped the following from the brief:

On August 6, 2011, blogger Damon Tucker (“Tucker”) had a similar encounter with Hawaii County Police Department officers.  Tucker claims that he was filming the officers’ arrest of other individuals, when an officer slammed him to the ground and confiscated his camera/phone. Tucker was arrested for obstructing government operations, though charges were dropped shortly thereafter.

You can view the complete brief here: Amicus Brief on the Rights to Film Police Officers on Duty

I’ll be ramping things up in the next few days… more to come.

Photography Is Not a Crime – Posting Pictures of Kids in Public Places on Your Website is Legal

Well the 2011 Pahoa Parade is now long over.  I posted 145 pictures of the parade on my blog and now it appears that I have upset a parent because in one of those pictures their child is in it.

My son getting dragged by a hot dog at the 2011 Pahoa Parade

I received the following email and when I tried to reply to the sender the email bounced so I guess this person was using a fake account or something to bother me.

Please remove the picture of my child from your website from todays Pahoa Parade

I really had no clue which picture they were talking about so I responded like this although now I realize they never got this:

“Your crazy… A) which picture are you talking about… B) when you show me the picture… I may feature it now that you attempting to suppress my freedom of the press and taking pictures in a public place!

I’ve been thinking about this on and off all day and I just can’t believe how ridiculous some folks maybe at times.  I wonder if this parent also requested that the Hawaii Tribune remove any pictures that may have posted of their child if the Tribune captured them in their pictures of the parade.

I know that Hawaii24/7 has a whole 5 minute video featuring nothing but folks in the parade.  Will this parent insist that Hawaii24/7 edits out the picture of their child in it if they happen to see this video?

I’ve had an ongoing discussion with some folks on my facebook page and I can’t believe some of the comments I have received. However, one of the responses I respect the most comes from a pre-school teahcer:

…I think many schools have FB (Facebook) pages these days as an alternative to costly web sites. It’s much easier to portray the fun things that go on, the beauty of an environment, and the joy of learning form a smile on a child’s face…from a picture, than a verbal description. A picture used to simply “speak a thousand words”. But now, a picture has become a tool for child endangerment. Wow! What is this world coming to???

Many folks think it’s straight up illegal at times!  Others say you could be harming a child by placing pictures of them on the internet.

Do folks realize that most schools now a days are putting their childrens pictures on the internet?  My son’s school is a private school and considered one of the best schools in the State… Kamehameha Schools and even all of their teachers from Kindergarten on up have very public blogs where they post pictures of the kids doing school functions.

When parents are afraid of the internet or the tools available for kids to use on the internet… It’s kind of scary to me.  I myself would rather have my kid surfing the internet and looking at pictures of his friends and classmates…. then walking down to the local store by himself!

Parenting and education is crucial in the development of children.  My son has a very public website and he is only 7 years old.  Is some “Bully Parent” going to tell my son that he can’t post pictures of his friends on his site?

And just so folks know… I probably would have removed that particular picture… had the email not come anonymously nor with the “DEMAND” that came with it.  Still to this day… I don’t know what picture it is… however I do know what organization they belong to.

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Maui Police Withdraw Subpoena Requesting Blog Commenters IP Addresses

I mentioned previously “that if the police ever asked me to turn over the IP addresses of anyone whoever commented on my site I would tell em to go to hell!”…  Looks like the Maui Police Department realized they don’t have any case against the MauiTimes.

The Maui Police Department has withdrawn a grand jury subpoena that sought to force a Wailuku publisher to reveal information about his newspaper’s online commenters.

Maui Time Publisher Tommy Russo had invoked Hawaii’s journalist shield law in opposing the subpoena, which ordered the weekly newspaper to provide subscriber information, billing records, Internet protocol addresses and physical addresses for comments posted on the paper’s website over a 24-hour period.

The comments related to a story by the paper which included a video of Russo apparently being struck in the face by a Maui police officer. One online commenter wrote that the officer “needs a bullet when he walks out his door…”

More Here: Police Withdraw Subpoena, Say Online Commenter ID’d

Stephens Media Suing Bloggers and Websites That Use Their Content

The owners of the Hawaii Tribune Herald, The West Hawaii Today, and Big Island Weekly is Stephens Media.  Many folks consider the Las Vegas Review Journal the “sister” paper to the Big Island papers and is owned by Stephens Media as well.

In fact the Hawaii Tribune Herald has a button linking directly to their site.

So now it appears that the Las Vegas Review Journal is suing folks who use content from their papers without permission and or linking to the papers online site *Update* I meant to say folks that  are not linking back to the paper.

It’s now brought lawsuits against 34 separate websites.

The publishers of a noncommercial blog about cats in Boston are among the latest defendants in lawsuits claiming website operators have been infringing on copyrights by posting Las Vegas Review-Journal stories without authorization…

…Friday’s suits bring to 34 the number of lawsuits filed over R-J copyrights since March…

Full Article: 8 more websites sued over R-J Copyrights; 34 total

So those of you folks locally who are thinking of setting up a blog or running a website… be careful who you steal from!  Especially here on the Big Island where our only real newspapers are all dominated by someone so ready to jump all over any one for any thing.

It makes me think Stephens Media is really starting to lose money fast and furious and it’s looking at blaming bloggers for part of that profit loss.

I’ve seen other sites that have mirrored my site before and I didn’t really think any thing of it before… I guess I’ll start having to be more careful about allowing folks using my content.

Blogger Paid $225K for Having State Withhold Records From Him

Hat tip to Planet Kauai:

SEATTLE — King County has agreed to pay conservative blogger Stefan Sharkansky $225,000 to settle a public-records lawsuit he brought over the county’s delay in releasing documents about the 2004 governor’s election.

Sharkansky filed his request in December 2004, seeking a list of everyone who voted in the county in the election that year, but the county didn’t satisfy the request until more than two years later.

Additional documents that were released last month in discovery for my case confirmed that county officials both knew more about the illegal vote counting than they had previously acknowledged, and also knowingly withheld responsive documents from me during 2005 and 2006,” he wrote on his blog,

More Here