NYPD Throws New York Gubernatorial Candidate In Jail For Filming The Aggressive Arrest Of Black Man

randy-credico0942

New York Gubernatorial candidate Randy Credico was charged with “obstruction” after he refused to stop videotaping New York Police Department officers aggressively arresting an older black man in a subway station. His arrest comes just days after the head of the NYPD publicly reminded his officers that the recording of arrests is not a crime.

Credico, who squares off against incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo in the upcoming primary election, says he was on the way to a meeting when he observed officers roughly harassing a black man. Given the recent examples of NYPD brutality, including one which resulted in the death of a black man who was placed in a chokehold until his heart gave out, Credico did what many concerned citizens have done when they see injustice: he got out his camera phone and began recording.

According to Capital New York:

“The guy got right into my face, and says, you’ve got to move back. The next thing you know I got arrested,” Credico told Fred Dicker on his radio show, speaking from a holding cell in the Bronx. “This is something out of a Dostoevsky book.”

Obviously, the NYPD has a different version of what happened. They claim Credico was “yelling and cursing” and refused to listen to an officer’s order to stay back. For those offenses, Credico was handcuffed, hauled to jail and charged with menacing a police officer, obstructing government administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. They also claimed he had an outstanding warrant but later realized that the warrant was for a completely different person with a completely different name.

Credico documented some of his experience on twitter:

He also alleges that cops seized his phone and have so far refused to give it back because they are keeping it for “evidence.” As mentioned above, a judge has told them not to delete video of the incident prior to Credico’s arrest.

While the NYPD has shown little reluctance to crackdown harshly on anyone they think is casting their actions in a bad light, they may have a further motive to abuse Credico. Unlike Cuomo, he has been an outspoken critic of the way the police have conducted themselves. As the Photography Is Not A Crime blog points out, Credico has made the ending of police abuse a campaign priority.

But just beneath banksters and taxes is a vow to begin reining in the NYPD by firing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (to be replaced with Frank Serpico) and abolishing the NYPD’s unconstitutional policies of racial profiling, stop and frisk, domestic spying, entrapment, and its infamous (albeit unadmitted) quota system.”

Central to that policing reform plank, Credico says, is reclassifying the smoking and carrying of marijuana as no longer an arrestible offense. He also vows to fire any officer who lies or perjures himself on the stand, and to bar the use of “no-knock” warrants and stun grenades “except in the case of legitimate terrorist attack.”

The police may not like it, but the right to record their activities in the public is constitutionally protected and has been upheld in court numerous times. The ACLU has a detailed list of where and when citizens can film cops and it’s worth committing it to memory.

Taking photographs and videos of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is your constitutional right. That includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers often order people to stop taking photographs or video in public places, and sometimes harass, detain or even arrest people who use their cameras or cell phone recording devices in public.

It’s not just for the fun of it either. Recording officers has been proven to increase honesty and trust between the police and citizens. It also insures that should any violations occur (from either party) there is evidence which can attest to that. In the case of arrests, police officers are often given an inordinate amount of say in what happened. Often accusations of misconduct fall on deaf ears because a court defers to the police report. Documentation of an arrest can do nothing but help keep things on the level.

Credico, who was a comedian before entering politics, is a longshot candidate given Cuomo’s vast campaign war chest, but he seems like the kind of guy who would want to see things change for the better. It’s not often that you see a politician get in between the police and a man being harassed, even if it means putting his own career, arrest record and sadly, even his life on the line. That would certainly be a breath of fresh air for a city that has seen far too many police scandals lately.