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ACLU obtains restraining order against police live streaming riots in reversal of 2017 recommendations

Judge Bushong issued a restraining order Thursday at the behest of the ACLU against the Portland police live-streaming videos of protesters and rioters.
Collin Jones The Post Millennial

Multnomah County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Stephen Bushong issued a restraining order Thursday at the behest of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Portland Police Bureau's practice of live-streaming videos of protesters and rioters.

Members of law enforcement will be temporarily barred from "collecting or maintaining audio or video of protesters" who are engaging in the use of their First Amendment rights, according to Koin 6.

ACLU of Oregon's lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, saying that "the Portland Police Bureau's practice of filming and broadcasting protesters violates an Oregon law prohibiting law enforcement from collecting or maintaining information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of people who are not suspected of criminal activity."

In 2017, the ACLU revised their recommendations on body cams, although their reasons for requesting the restraining order, that those engaged in expressing their First Amendment rights should not be filmed while doing so, was not among them.

Their recommendations primarily dealt with the availability of cam footage to reveal police misconduct. While they note that most body-cam footage should not be made available to the public, they say that the exception to that recommendation is when "there is a strong public interest in that video that outweighs privacy concerns," namely they envision this as to when there "is a use of force, or a complaint against an officer."

The ACLU wrote that videos that show "police use of force," "in which a subject is killed, shot... or grievously injured," must be released. The ACLU did not appear to envision circumstances where the police would want to release this footage in order to ascertain their own innocence against violent actors.

In obtaining this restraining order, the ACLU indicates that they do not believe footage of rioting and violence in Portland meets the standard of "strong public interest."

ACLU of Oregon said that "we appreciate Judge Bushong's order," adding that "today's decision is an important step towards ensuring all people can exercise their rights to protest and assembly without fear of government surveillance."

"Protest is an essential part of our democracy. Throughout our history, it has taken protest to disrupt injustices and to open paths for change. Government surveillance chills people from engaging in their rights to protest and is an abuse of police power."

Bernard B. Kerik, the 40th Police Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, tweeted in response to this lawsuit: "They want body cams to hold the police accountable, but will not allow live streaming, to hold the anarchists accountable."

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