Arizona statute prohibiting filming within 8 feet of law enforcement has been the subject of a lawsuit.

An Arizona legislation that forbids filming law officers from within eight feet has been challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a few media outlets.

The Republican governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, signed the bill into law in July, making it unlawful to videotape law enforcement action there. After receiving a warning to leave, violators could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Prior to the law’s scheduled September implementation, the lawsuit asks for an injunction. It was submitted to the Arizona District Court of the United States.

Filming law enforcement personnel has evolved in recent years into a method of exposing malfeasance.

The most well-known instance of such filming is the cellphone camera footage shot by onlookers of the arrest and death of Black man George Floyd in May 2020, who died after having his neck held down by a police officer for nine minutes. Floyd’s passing spurred protests against racism and police violence both in the US and abroad.

The lawsuit contends that the Arizona legislation violates the First Amendment right to record established by the U.S. Constitution and would make it difficult for reporters to cover news about law enforcement because they run the risk of being detained and prosecuted.

Local news stations and media broadcasting corporations, including NBC Universal Media, the parent company of NBC News, were among the 10 news media organizations who joined the complaint.

Over 60% of Americans, according to New York University’s First Amendment Watch, reside in areas where federal appeals courts have upheld the right under the First Amendment to film police officers going about their business in public.

 

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