London cops enforce imaginary law against brave, principled teenaged photographer

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79 Responses to “London cops enforce imaginary law against brave, principled teenaged photographer”

  1. omnivore says:

    @pidg #40 : “But exactly what situation caused the police officers to speak to him in the first place? If he was just taking photos of the parade in a public place, without getting in the way (as is implied), I seriously doubt they would have bothered him.”

    Then you haven’t been following the many examples of police, particularly in Britain, fabricating pseudo-legal pretexts to interfere with people’s right to photograph public places. Many have been documented on BoingBoing.

    “From his whiny voice I infer he might have been being a bit of a tool in his actions, perhaps unintentionally, thus attracting the officers’ attention.”

    Do you understand the problem in making the tone of someone’s voice, and not the content of what they say, or their actual actions the substance of your critique?

    • doggo says:

      “Do you understand the problem in making the tone of someone’s voice, and not the content of what they say, or their actual actions the substance of your critique?”

      Hmm. In some languages tone makes all the difference. But since all we have is an audio recording and we don’t know what the kid’s “actual actions” were, I’m gonna back pigd.

  2. Blue says:

    The thing is, they were lying about their powers.

    We can all hear them lying and know their lies to be things they’re using to (falsely) justify their pushing of someone around without the authority to do so: lying about the extent of their authority.

    The kid knows it. The police themselves know that they’re just making things up to pretend they have the right/authority to do it.

    It’s indisputable.

    That false representation of power should be an indictable offence.

    They should be jailed and lose their status as upholders of the law. They damage the police in general and the public trust that the police are upholders of the law; the law is not something you just make up to suit your needs as you go along (that power is reserved for our noble and wise politicians*).

    If the kid’s behaviour was genuinely a problem, then they could have used any number of laws, or just plain decent common-sense police-to-human communication to deal with it in a pleasant, non-confrontational, fair and humane manner.

    Even assuming that there was a genuine need to intervene because of the young person’s behaviour (and proof that there wasn’t, judging by the shifting reasoning of the police officers involved) the police demonstrate clearly that they went in heavy-handed, reaching for the nuclear option because they lack the skill, training, intelligence and sensitivity to effectively deal with ANY member of the public.

    They should not be in the job. Any of them.

  3. omnivore says:

    Wanted to add to the list of fabricated threats, and the police’s clear interest in creating a situation where they could charge or detain the kid (eg the references to the Terrorism Act, etc), that the police refer to him as acting “antisocially”. Clearly a threat under Britain’s ludicrous AntiSocial Behaviour Act (ASBO), that gives courts and police far too much licence to act in utterly arbitrary ways.

  4. The Hamster King says:

    We blame the victim to cope with our fear of becoming one.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      We blame the victim to cope with our fear of becoming one.

      The cape buffalo scents the lions. He thinks, “The lions are always eating and we’re always being eaten. I should become a lion.” He leaves the herd and approaches the pride.

  5. mgfarrelly says:

    How many made-up crimes was he accused of by the bullies with badges?

    -Photographing children without parental permission (not a crime)

    -Photographing police officers (not a crime)

    -Photographing military personnel (not a crime)

    -Possibly being run over by a parade (not a crime)

    -Being an agitator (not a crime)

    And then they call him a terrorist so they can do whatever they like in the name of public safety.

    So rather than a young man taking pictures of a parade as is his perfect legal right, we get a very clear picture of just how ill-prepared the London cops are for dealing with photographers.

    Imagine if these clowns actually ran into a proper villain?

    • CharliK says:

      “-Photographing children without parental permission (not a crime)
      -Photographing police officers (not a crime)
      -Photographing military personnel (not a crime)
      -Being an agitator (not a crime)””

      Under particular circumstances every one of those, especially the first, could be a crime.

      “So rather than a young man taking pictures of a parade as is his perfect legal right, ”

      You sure it was so ‘perfect’. The law is, it seems, that you don’t need parental consent to take a photo of someone under 18 if it is a news event in a public place. The parade certainly qualifies. But several of those photos were not of the parade but of the staging area and that could be less ‘perfect’. I don’t know UK law but I work for an event company here in California and we do a lot of red carpet premieres, autograph events and such. Legally we can declare an area ‘no public allowed’ and even if it is a generally public area, say a sidewalk we have cordoned off for the red carpet, it is for that time a ‘private zone’ and thus you have to ask for permission to enter and you are trespassing if you don’t or if I said no. That staging area is certainly a place I would guess might have been roped off to keep the public out. And thus the ‘perfect’ right gets a tad hazy.

      • SteveNZ says:

        “The law is, it seems, that you don’t need parental consent to take a photo of someone under 18 if it is a news event in a public place.”

        No, the law in both Britain and the US (which derives much of its legal system from British precedents) is that generally you don’t need any consent to take a photograph of anyone or any thing in a public place — that’s why we draw a distinction between public and private places, for Pete’s sake.

        “I work for an event company here in California and we do a lot of red carpet premieres, autograph events and such. Legally we can declare an area ‘no public allowed’ and even if it is a generally public area, say a sidewalk we have cordoned off for the red carpet, it is for that time a ‘private zone’ and thus you have to ask for permission to enter and you are trespassing if you don’t or if I said no.”

        I strongly suspect your employer has misinformed you as to the extent of the authority you may legitimately claim over public spaces such as sidewalks, at least without written permission from some properly constituted local body. You need a Council permit to string cordons around a public place where I live and I bet it’s the same in California. Just because you think you can “legally” infringe on other citizens’ rights doesn’t mean you’re correct; I’d love to see your assumption tested in court.

        A general remark: What a horrid land of fascistic jobsworths Britain has become in recent years. I never thought I’d say it, but I’m glad I don’t live there any more.

  6. Toby Clark says:

    There’s a cultural distinction here, Doggo.
    Whereas in the US you are granted rights (the right to keep and bear arms, for example), here in the UK all is permitted, unless it is explicitly forbidden – our Firearms Act 1968 forbids the carrying of guns in public, except under certain very strict conditions.
    So yes, a policeman really ought to know under which law he/she is acting.

    • Griffin says:

      “here in the UK all is permitted, unless it is explicitly forbidden”

      That is actually the way it works in the US, as well, with the additional limitation that certain things can never be forbidden.

      Unless you were trying to argue that people don’t actually have any rights in Britain, since any action can be legally curtailed or forbidden, in which case I suppose you are right.

    • peterbruells says:

      Err, last time I looked at the 2nd amendment, it seemed to imply that bearing arms is a natural right that must be infringed by government.

  7. omnivore says:

    @doggo 53 : “Hmm. In some languages tone makes all the difference. But since all we have is an audio recording and we don’t know what the kid’s “actual actions” were, I’m gonna back pigd.”

    We know what the actions were that concerned the police officers, because they mentioned them. If there was something meriting the concern of the police that they didn’t mention, that’s outside the scope here, except to ask why they would not have brought it up. None of the mentioned actions are infractions, crimes or anything else that merits legitimate police attention.

    I don’t know where you’re going with the language and tones argument: I studied Mandarin Chinese for 3 years, and I speak Portuguese, and in both of those tone is important, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with “tone of voice”. In any case, they were speaking English, so could you explain how this is in any way relevant?

  8. sluggo says:

    Why does “ignorance of the law excuses no one” only apply to citizens?

  9. deckard68 says:

    I take it they don’t have Tasers in Britain? Kid would be bloody on the ground (and I mean that in the American sense — actual blood) if this was the USA.

  10. doggo says:

    I think there are some of us here who, though we agree that the police seem to be over the top in this case, and don’t support bullying by police (I grew up in Chicago in the ’70s, I know a bit about police bullying.), we are also not impressed with the kid’s apparent behavior. There are ways to stand up for yourself without being provocative.

    I remain skeptical since we have no way of knowing what the kid was doing, and where. Hell, we have no way of knowing for sure if the kid was actually pushed down some stairs.

    My point is, many here seem very quick to damn the police, even though they don’t know the facts. Further, your expectations of patrol cops surpass anything you’ll find in any major city. If you want cops with legal credentials on par with lawyers, or even paralegals, you’d better be able to pay some higher taxes, ’cause you’re going to need to pay them much more than a regular patrol cop.

    My experience with police officers has run the gamut from being pushed around and threatened by beat cops to being treated with a modicum of sympathy by detectives.

    Most city people learn early on how to deal with cops. The ones that don’t are criminals, who are by definition stupid, and privileged suburbanites. Both tend to rude, obstructive, and start yelling about their rights being violated. When that happens the cop stops caring about your point of view, tunes you out, and looks for the most expedient way to get rid of you.

    Should citizens unnecessarily provoke cops and expect their rights to be respected? No. Should you allow cops to trample your civil rights? No.

    • emilblock says:

      Knowing the offences and the grounds for arrest is a minimum standard for any police officer, patrol or not. If they can’t do that they should remain a civilian.

    • omnivore says:

      I’ll reiterate: knowing what the kid did or did not do is not the point: what is the point is that the cops accuse him of things that are not crimes. The question isn’t whether the kid did or did not do what he is accused of by the cops; the point is that none of these things are even remotely illegal in the context he is doing them.

      Bizarre generalizations about suburbanites being like criminals? I don’t think that strengthens your argument.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Full credit to the young man for standing up to being bullied by police officers who are a disgrace to their uniform. They couldn’t account for themselves and didn’t know how to handle a ‘kid’ who knew more than they did about the law. They come across as arrogant bullies, unfit for purpose. I do hope he sues them on a number of grounds. They more than deserve it. Don’t waste time with the IPCC who self regulate and don’t do anything positive like taking the bullies to court on behalf of the citizenry. Words of advice and admonition are cheap; only financial compensation claims via civil legal action seems to concentrate the mind of the average plod commander and produce action. Worrying more that this still goes on, just adding to the world’s perception of Britain as somewhere where ‘security theatre’ and official paranoia are played out by what used to be an honourable group of people our police force who used to have common sense. Now they come across as thugs and bullies. What price democracy in their hands.

  12. Chris Tucker says:

    happenchance, and all the rest who corkscrew logic and reason into somehow making everything that happened to the young photographer his fault:

    “Kiss the shiny, shiny boots of leather” is a Lou Reed song, not a state mandate for citizens dealing with police thuggishness!

  13. Anonymous says:

    “The kid could’ve easily walked away but instead decided to press the matter and cause a scene…”

    Yes, how DARE he insist on his rights and not simply OBEY OBEY OBEY. Your attitude, sir, is exactly the kind of mindset that allows the police to abuse citizens and the law that is supposed to protect them.

    You’re right, he could have just “walked away” and let the police enforce an imaginary law. But he didn’t, and I applaud him for that. Shame on you, because you obviously don’t understand what’s at stake here.

  14. Anonymous says:

    If that lad were an American in America I’d say the cops are operating under false color.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “When the police officer said he was allowed to continue taking photographs but asked is he could move, he should’ve done so.”

    And when Rosa Parks was told to move to the back of the bus, she should have just done so. Right?

  16. chillitom says:

    This makes me so ashamed to live in the UK.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Are there no failure to obey laws in Britain?

  18. Phrosty says:

    So, is he going to take legal action, or just blog about it? The linked article states he is considering taking legal action, but that sounds rather vague. Is he, or isn’t he?

  19. Anonymous says:

    following these policemen’s logic, no tourists are allowed to photograph the Royal Guard… silly!

  20. Forbes says:

    Whereas in the US you are granted rights (the right to keep and bear arms, for example)

    What you’ve described is the exact opposite of the US system of government, at least in principle: Our founding declaration is that “We The People” have inherent rights, and we grant specific, limited powers to the government in order to secure those rights more effectively.

    When the Bill of Rights says “… the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, it’s not a right the government is granting — it’s explicitly a restriction the people have placed upon the government. This right shall not be infringed.

  21. The Mudshark says:

    Hats off to you Jules! I know for certain I wouldn’t have been able to stand up to a police bully in such a confident, composed way at your age.

  22. Mister N says:

    A real police office ( as in, a peace keeper of the Estate ) would have asked the amateur photographer to clear the way for the parade. Thus ensuring the safety of everybody during transit while in Estate’s territory.

    What the police officer did was no different from a school bully.

  23. CharliK says:

    While I agree that these officers were a tad over the top with their tone and behavior, I question if they were being jerks or truly believed that they were correct about the laws they were quoting. In other words, if they were just ignorant of the nuisances. Because it seems that there are instances where photographing minors and even police are illegal. Also, in this time of heightened vigilance about terrorism, it is not far fetched to believe that a “16 year old” could be doing surveillance. Bit paranoid but possible.

    If this young man actually wants to be a photographer as a career he needs to learn to act more maturely. Because this kind of behavior is why even non celebstalker photographers get harassed. He was there to photograph the parade as a news event. And yet he was lurking around the lineup area. If he wanted to take some photos off the various groups, why not just ask if it was cool. Seems he didn’t. And since at that point the newsworthy event wasn’t going on, it could be that the law in question was applicable. He could have just nodded yes, politely gotten the officers name (to inform his supervisors that he needs to be re-educated about the actual laws) and then found another spot to photograph this event. Instead he risked escalating things to the point where someone could lose it and he could have been hurt. At the very least he played right into the whole ‘disturbing the peace’ stuff.

    Also, this whole ‘freedom of speech’ thing sounds really nice. But it does need to have limits. Celebrities and other well knowns are often harassed on the streets by ‘photographers’, they have straight up lies written about them on ‘news’ sites, sites exaggerate in their headlines to create scandals that don’t exist (said laws are not exactly imaginary just perhaps not applicable) etc. And it is defended as ‘free speech’.

    • emilblock says:

      It’s irrelevant whether the Police were knowingly ignorant or not. They’re required to know the law to effect legal arrest under Police Powers legislation (PACE 1994 here). The number of spurious, invented, non-applicable offences given by the constables is alarming and seems designed to scare the average person, who may not know their rights, into submission. This photographer is very well informed and brave enough to question the authority of the Police and their actions. The Police should have better knowledge of the law and be able to act within it.

      Similarly if Officers can’t get the law correct at arrest and charging, important prosecutions of *real* crimes become unsound. We can and should expect much more of the Police Service than what’s recorded on this clip.

      Police action outside of legislation, and arguably in this case, give rise to claims for unlawful arrest/detention or common law assault, for which the Constabulary can be sued and the officers reprimanded or dismissed.

      “If this young man actually wants to be a photographer as a career he needs to learn to act more maturely.”
      I would think his tenacity will serve him very well in the future. Standing up for yourself in the face of uniformed authority is a brave thing to do. I hope he has the evidence and the means to pursue an action against Essex Constabulary because it’s only such action that will establish change for the better.

    • bob d says:

      @CharliK: “If he wanted to take some photos off the various groups, why not just ask if it was cool. Seems he didn’t.”
      As a working photographer this was neither necessary nor remotely practical. (Also, are you suggesting that reporters perhaps should ask permission before doing a story about someone or something that’s newsworthy?)

      He was in a public space, and thus had the right to take pictures. Period. He was not “maybe” committing an offense. There was no legal ambiguity regarding photographing any of the groups (minors/police/soldiers) in question.

      It’s unclear from the recording where he had originally been standing, and where the police wanted him to go, but since they didn’t start with, “please could you move, you’re in the way of the parade.” The police started with, “you’re taking illegal photographs.” Which is absurd and untrue. They claimed not to be detaining him, while simultaneously preventing him from leaving, bodily. They tried to take his camera, which is a clear sign of police abuse – they aren’t allowed to do that unless the person is using it as an actual weapon; police who know they’re in the wrong often try to take cameras to eliminate evidence of their abuses. Asking police why they are behaving in an illegal manner hardly constitutes “agitating.” (Or if it does, then you no longer have a free society.)

      “Legally we can declare an area ‘no public allowed’ and even if it is a generally public area, say a sidewalk…” Being able to act as if something were true is not the same as being legally true. Has anyone actually been prosecuted for trespassing on a public sidewalk? Successfully? If an area was roped off and the public wasn’t allowed to be there but the photographer was, that’s one thing (and not the issue here). However, no one can rope off a public area and then claim that photographs aren’t allowed, either into or from that area.

    • KiwiRascal says:

      Hi CharliK, you wrote:

      “Also, this whole ‘freedom of speech’ thing sounds really nice. But it does need to have limits. ”

      Never have I seen a more problematic use of free speech.

  24. Anonymous says:

    a friend of mine had a run in with local police, she was out in town and a group of guys took a dislike to one of her male friends and started a fight with him. as he was trying to get away from the group a pair of police walk past as the fight broke out, doing nothing the police continued to walk past. my friend started yelling at the police to do something and they ignored her, she ran over in front of them and started cursing at them for ignoring it. she was obviously in distress. one of the police then proceeded to threaten her with arrest with an on the spot fine because she was cursing at an officer.

    i complained to an ex officer i know about how terrible this was and he said that if they had gotten involved with the fight it would cause allot of paper work for probably using force and they could have had to deal with possible weapon use from the violent party.

    the guy who was involved in the fight managed to get out with only a broken finger and a few bruises after some other passers by intervened and broke up the brawl.

    since then i have always had a disrespect for police officers.

    i have also been threatened by police carrying automatic guns at Gatwick airport because i was charging my phone in a plug that was sat next to a waiting bench, the claimed i could get 7 years for stealing electricity i knew this was total rubbish but i wasn’t going to argue with them as its more than it was worth at the time.

  25. Xopher says:

    I really want to comment on this, but I can’t think of any way to describe these officers that wouldn’t be disemvowelled.

    They should be fired. At the very least.

  26. Anonymous says:

    And in the US, he would have been arrested for making an audio recording of the officers making up laws off the tops of their heads.

  27. Fifth says:

    “I was on the kid’s side up until half way through this recording, when one of the more understanding officers agreed that he was able to take photographs in a public place but asked if he’d move out of the way of the parade.”

    I too was pretending to be on the side of the utterly innocent victim, until I was able to invent an excuse for siding with thuggish, abusive authority.

    “It would make more sense both to the police officer, and bystanders, that if you know what you’re doing is legal, that you quote the law yourself.”

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. “You should know the law that you’re arresting people under” is seriously just too demanding of a standard to ask of our poor widdle policebabies?

  28. TechnoBach says:

    The Police Officer’s Handbook

    Section 5: Dealing with photographers

    a) Photographers are not allowed to take pictures of anything, be it bystanders, friends, or inanimate objects. There are laws against it.
    b) Report them for disturbing the peace, and if they do not leave, detain them
    c) If the photographer is not letting you bully him, he is a terrorist. Throw him down some stairs.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Blog readers may be interested to know that it is the consensus of the British police officers posting on their own blog that these officers were “idots”.

    http://www.policespecials.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=108953&st=0

    It makes me despair of those who still want to defend them.

    What has happened to Americans under the weight of this terror scare. You used to know better, not so long ago. A citizen is free to enjoy his liberty to the full constrained only by the law. This kid broke no laws. The officers could name no law and section they even suspected him of having broken. Yet they harassed and even assaulted him. Some police officers agree with this themselves. There is debate about whether they should be sacked.

    I’m far more scared of citizens demanding that we all blindly obey the police than I am of the police.

    The officers may be liable to criminal prosecution under the precedent set in the case of Wood vs. DPP. This case is open and shut.

    There is nothing shocking about what they have done to those of use who have dealt with British big city police in the last decade. This is standard conduct in public order situations (protests and soccer games) or when dealing with people on the margins. The difference in this case is that the police have been superbly and undeniably unmasked.

    Let me give you an example. I was sitting discreetly observing police a few months ago. The detainee said he would get CCTV footage to prove he had been abused. The officer replied quick as you like. “It doesn’t matter what’s on the CCTV; What we say is what happened”.

    Think about that for a second.

    I could go on, but I’ll stop now. Someone needs to document all this stuff into a single dossier that could utterly condemn the British police.

  30. p4nic says:

    “”The kid could’ve easily walked away but instead decided to press the matter and cause a scene…””

    I don’t think so. There are points in the recording where the kid asks if he is being detained and the police say no, and the kid asks why he can’t go, and the cop says the kid has no right to push past him, indicating the police have him cornered and are in fact detaining him. This is a classic police bully tactic when they know they’re in the wrong and are trying to get you to ‘assault’ them so they can arrest you.

  31. happenchance says:

    I was on the kid’s side up until half way through this recording, when one of the more understanding officers agreed that he was able to take photographs in a public place but asked if he’d move out of the way of the parade. The kid could’ve easily walked away but instead decided to press the matter and cause a scene, leaving the police with no other option than to detain him (rightfully so) for breach of the peace.

    Fair play to the kid for standing up for himself and his rights, I’d be proud of him for that… but he should learn when to walk away.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, he should not “walk away”. There is a reason we have rights, and it’s not because some cop just decides he wants to impose his will on someone else.

    • zikzak says:

      The kid could’ve easily walked away but instead decided to press the matter and cause a scene, leaving the police with no other option than to detain him (rightfully so) for breach of the peace.

      The police could have easily walked away, but instead decided to press the matter and cause a scene, leaving the photographer with no other option than to firmly and strenuously assert his legal rights.

      Why is it always the responsibility of the civilian to “avoid a scene”? Someone needs to tell the cops: Don’t start no shit, it won’t be no shit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry cannot agree. The young Man deserved to be heard, and deserevd to be told the reason for his arrest. the police couldn’t provide that. So he had every right to question.

      Good for him.

      This country is descending into madness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why should he ‘walk away’? The point Jules was making was there is no law dictating he should have left. He was going about his lawful business.

      Yes the ‘sensible’ thing (if you define ‘sensible’ as giving up your right to freedom) would have been to obey the officer(s), but what country would we live in if everyone obeyed commands that went against their freedom (dictatorships ahoy).

      Ah hang on, am I not bordering on something else here? (NWO).

      Ok, look. You are jogging round Hyde park, sweating profusely and stop for a slug of water from your bottle. You tip half the bottles contents over your head, and an officer immediately reprimands you for ‘making provocative scenes in front of other public members’.

      Sound absurd?

      Say that officer asks you to immediate stop using your MP3 player, water bottle and running shoes and leave Hyde park, and arrests you when you are quite baffled by the whole affair, and refuse to do any of the above.

      My point is that a perfectly legal activity was questioned by an officer, and because the officer didn’t like being told they were in the wrong to question the activity, the photographer was arrogantly dealt with.

      Who was in the wrong here? You’d be a shortsighted fool to think the photographer.

      • happenchance says:

        @Anon

        I’m suggesting that Jules did the right thing… in the beginning. He plainly stated that he wasn’t breaking the law, and stood up for himself when officers tried to make up imaginary reasons why he wasn’t allowed to do his job. Great. Well done Jules.

        However…

        When the police officer said he was allowed to continue taking photographs but asked is he could move, he should’ve done so. Anyone with a sense of reason would see that doing so would both (eventually) allow Jules to continue to do his job and diffuse the situation with the police.

        Obviously in the heat of the moment, Jules instead decided to press the issue and continue to be nuisance to the police. Leaving them with no option other than to book him for breach of the peace.

        The situation was escalating and something had to give… either Jules’s ego or the police officer’s temper.

        I’m not blaming Jules, really. When I was 16 I probably would’ve done the same thing.

        • A.Lwin says:

          I have to disagree here, Jules was never at fault.

          If the police had from the begining asked him to move because he was in the path of a parade which would be arriving ‘in a few moments’ most probably he would have moved out of the way and continued his work.

          However thats not how it started. Instead the police attempted to prevent him from doing his work and only later at what sounds more like trying to cover-up an initial mistake (harrassment) by saying they wanted him to move out of the path of a parade, not to stop him from taking photographs in a public place.

        • A.Lwin says:

          “The situation was escalating and something had to give… either Jules’s ego or the police officer’s temper.”

          When people talk about ego and temper, I am always reminded of these quotes of Saito Hajime:

          “Do not get angry… Few have the strength to risk death for the pride and respect that humans deserve. Because you do not need pride or respect just to stay alive…”

          “Humans are weak against terrorism and violence, and under such control their only desire is to survive no matter what. They lose all pride and respect.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, I’m not really seeing why he should just walk away when he hasn’t actually done anything wrong and it’s the Police harrassing him? That would mean the Police get away with things like this yet again. These are meant to be people we can TRUST. I hope there’s a LOT of trouble for these particular officers over this.

  32. A.Lwin says:

    What ticks me about today’s societies: Those with wealth and power are allowed to bargain their way out of punishments or ‘forgiven’ because of so called ‘politics’ while the average citizen will always have to serve a sentence for a ‘crime’. I’m not against a person who committed murder being sentenced to 25-life (or death) but a police officer, a politician, these people are people given the authority, power and trust to protect us, so if they committed a crime shouldn’t they be held more responsible than the average citizen?

    A police officer is allowed and trusted to carry a deadly weapon and use it (hopefully in a responsible manner) compared to the average citizen. They are given more power and authority than almost any other person, so not only should they be more responsible but also be held more accountable for their actions. So for example if an average citizen gets 25-life during a crime of passion a police officer should be put against the wall and shot if he accepts even a tiny bribe and be made an example. An example that states that no one can ever commit a crime and get away with it and that NO ONE is ABOVE the LAW.

    • dculberson says:

      a police officer should be put against the wall and shot if he accepts even a tiny bribe

      Strongly Disagree. That’s a mighty authoritative and retributive streak you’ve got there.

      • Notary Sojac says:

        I don’t advocate execution for taking a small bribe either. A public caning should suffice.

        • A.Lwin says:

          Perhaps ‘put against the wall and shot’ came out too strongly, but still the punishment for an officer of the law should be harsher than the punishment for an average person.

          • CharliK says:

            Why should the policy being anything more than it would be for anyone else.
            If my employer and/or the law doesn’t allow me to take a bribe or a gift, I am fired and potentially blacklisted from that field.
            Cop takes a bribe, fire him. Charge him with any applicable crimes etc. Let his face and name go in the papers like it would for any other criminal. Not death or whipping needed. Particularly if every employer after that will be informed that he was fired and spent time in jail for what he did.

          • A.Lwin says:

            Well because unlike the average citizen/civilian, a police officer has been granted certain rights and authority over the average citizen/civilian. So that police officer should be held more accountable for any crime commited and breaking a law that he/she has vowed to uphold. A citizen/civilian on the other hand has not made the same promise to uphold the law like a police officer, only taught to follow the law.

      • A.Lwin says:

        It’s not about retribution or authority, its about showing to the people that crime is not tollerated, especially even more so if it was committed by someone who willingly promised to uphold the law.

        How many politicians have had affairs or raped their secretaries but were let off the hook because they were doing some work that would benefit starving children or the poor. Are the needs of the many truly more important than the needs of the one (or few)? People who have accepted their job/duty as protectors of society, role models for others, leaders, etc should always follow higher (or even extreme) moral standards. Otherwise why should they, or how can they, deserve our trust and faith?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Entrapment works both ways… If any of them were approaching anything near being legal experts (apart from they would be earning 10 times more doing something else and not having to listen to jumped up spoilt little kids), they could actually of had you on a number charges.

    A charge does not confirm guilt, merely a suspicion of ‘it’ and an attempt to avert ‘it’ happening if possible.

    The reason he was so keen to know your date of birth was to confirm whether you were over 18 or not. As, if you were, you would be entering a whole different ball game.

    If you keep going around looking for trouble, be sure that you are good and ready for the day when you find it…

    • Raj77 says:

      Yo. It took me a couple of read-throughs to figure out what you were saying, but speaking as someone with more than a passing familiarity with the UK’s criminal law, you’re wrong. Mattson could not have been “had on a number of charges.” Conceivably breach of the peace, but remember he’s a minor and wouldn’t even receive a caution for that. Other than that, barring something completely trumped-up, I can’t think of a sausage. Going about your business is not anti-social behaviour. Incidentally the inspector who does most of the talking here, I’m quite sure, earns at least as much as a lot of solicitors.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks Anon, you write:

      “If you keep going around looking for trouble, be sure that you are good and ready for the day when you find it…”

      Jules Mattson has found it already. He was well ready for it. Good on him!

      But if you regard someone as “looking for trouble” when he is simply enjoying his liberty within the constraint of the law, then it isn’t the police he has to worry about; it’s people like you.

      Best Wishes,
      Stephen

  34. saintlaurent says:

    It is heartening to see a young person standing up for their rights. The confrontational attitude of the police and authorities is creating an environment of fear and blind compliance. Worse yet we are becoming accustomed to it.

    It is important to note that enforcing imaginary laws with the excuse of “terrorism” in both in the US and in Britain serve as example to the rest of the world. However the trickle down effect is much more toxic in countries less robust democracies and traditions of defending civil liberties. The chilling effect is frightening – only official biographies of politicians and others in the public eye; gag orders in the press; blogs being forced to remove critical restaurant reviews; people biting their tongues instead of speaking out.

    Defending these rights to free speech is part of the responsibility of living in a vibrant democracy. We need the legal tools to defend our rights when they are infringed upon.

    This young man should serve as an example to us all.

  35. Lucifer says:

    heh the Brits lost America for the exact same fundamental reasons they’re on the verge of losing their own tiny island – for not respecting the rights of individuals.

  36. pidg says:

    Agree with all the rumblings about the police, rights etc.

    But exactly what situation caused the police officers to speak to him in the first place? If he was just taking photos of the parade in a public place, without getting in the way (as is implied), I seriously doubt they would have bothered him.

    From his whiny voice I infer he might have been being a bit of a tool in his actions, perhaps unintentionally, thus attracting the officers’ attention.

    Just a theory.

    • Raj77 says:

      Yes, we must all be mindful of the police’s powers under the Being A Bit Of A Tool And Having A Whiny Voice Act 2003.

  37. doggo says:

    Just an observation. Just like the guy in Toronto getting his pack illegally searched, repeating over and over “under what law”, and “can you tell me under what law you’re…” in increasingly strident tones does not further your argument. It’s lame and it makes you sound like a stupid petulant “agitator”.

    For one thing, the police are not usually lawyers and don’t know the fine points of the law, though they are required to have working knowledge of it. They key word there is “working”.

    It would make more sense both to the police officer, and bystanders, that if you know what you’re doing is legal, that you quote the law yourself. It would be more powerful to say under such and such article I am afforded the right to do x.

    In this case, if the kid had said, “The Association of Police Chiefs has made it abundantly clear that the police must not harass amateur and professional photographers.”

    Instead of the seemingly one-upsmanship of quizzing the officer on laws he’s supposedly to enforce. State the law that you believe allows your behavior. Not only does it make the officer feel and appear stupid and/or ignorant of the law he or she is supposed to enforce, which may or may not be true, it proves diddly.

    And if you don’t want to sustain injury, don’t pull away, push, or jump around when the cops put their hands on you. If they do arrest you, they have grounds for resisting arrest, and it’s unlike they’ll be held responsible for your busted lip or concussion.

    I understand what these activists are trying to do, and what’s at stake. And I agree. But acting like an ass (I have stronger words to describe both of these characters’ behavior, but why be disemvoweled?) doesn’t engender sympathy from the mainstream.

    • Anonymous says:

      For the most part, under British law, that which is not specifically prohibited is permitted. So there’s no law to quote as a regular citizen exercising your (unwritten) rights to freedom of expression. It’s up to the police to quote the law that gives them permission to infringe upon those rights.

    • siliconsunset says:

      I agree with the majority of your comment, just want to point something out. Laws restrict rights, they don’t define them. You are allowed to do as you please, except when the law limits your actions. There are sections of law that remind people, and the governing body, of the rights and freedoms of individuals, but they are simply reminders and not “a list of what’s allowed.”

    • Eyhren says:

      I don’t think you can really apply that argument to a situation like this. You seem to be suggesting the best approach is a “guilty until proven innocent” system, whereby unless you can provide absolute proof that what you’re doing is legal, you shouldn’t do it. Taking photos in a public place without reprimand seems pretty obviously legal to me. Like the kid in the video said, do you really expect him to ask every single individual person in the crowd if they’re ok with him taking their picture? That just doesn’t make sense.
      Fair enough you can’t expect them to have absolute knowledge of all the finer details of every law there is, but if an officer is on duty supervising a public event, you’d think it sensible that said officer should at least have knowledge of laws regarding people’s rights in public places. That’s like handing a policeman a speed sensor and telling him it’s illegal for people to drive fast, but without telling him what the actual speed limit is.

    • Jerril says:

      If the cops are allowed to have vague, fuzzy impressions of what’s legal and what’s not, holding private citizens (who don’t work in the legal field) to higher standards is sheer madness.

    • Niklas says:

      “State the law that you believe allows your behavior.”

      I would have problem stating which law allows me to breath air (on public or private property), my drinking water from a plastic bottle on a public place, what law allows me to kiss my girl. Nor am I sure if any law specifically allows me to wear a striped shirt combined with a checkered tie, yet I have done so on at least one occasion.

      To the point: Laws are almost never positive, they are negative, as in only defining what is punishable, not defining explicitly what is allowed.

      • Ryan says:

        “Nor am I sure if any law specifically allows me to wear a striped shirt combined with a checkered tie, yet I have done so on at least one occasion.”

        I hope it’s allowed, because I did it today.

      • Anonymous says:

        You’ve worn a striped shirt with a chequered tie?!!?!? *begins to wonder if you shouldn’t be behind bars…*

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks Doggo, you write:

      “It would make more sense both to the police officer, and bystanders, that if you know what you’re doing is legal, that you quote the law yourself.”

      There is no law permitting a member of the public to enjoy his liberty. Rather, the police need laws to legitimately constrain us in certain circumstances. Outside those laws they are not exercising legitimate authority and we can do what we want. The rule of law is destroyed if the police do not or cannot state the law they are using in any instance. That is why they are obliged to do so in Britain, the US, or any purportedly law-governed society.

      Outside of the application of law, what do you suppose constitutes the basis of the legitimacy of police authority?

      Best Wishes,
      Stephen

  38. Bedsit Bob says:

    Doggo says:-

    “State the law that you believe allows your behaviour.”

    Generally, laws don’t allow behaviour, they prohibit behaviour.

    With a few exceptions, if something is not proscribed by the law, you are allowed to do it.

  39. boingboingdave says:

    Police are not lawyers, however, they are the ones enforcing it, and they regularly go in to court as the key witness to what occured. They regularly are the lynchpin for the government’s cause against a defendent and essentially argue against defense lawyers. I fully expect them to have more than a rudimentary understanding of the law, let alone an incorrect one. If they did, then we all could simply assume they know what they’re talking about. It worries me that the police in many countries do not have a working knowledge of the law – and do not realize or care about just that. It seems like much police work has become a matter subterfuge. Arresting and charging people with offenses, and leaving the onus on citizens to come up with the means of proving they were shafted. A simple traffic stop begins with “do you know why I pulled you over?” a trick question intended to make drivers admit to a crime, even if they’re just guessing as to what the cop might have believed them to be doing.

  40. ADavies says:

    Why do people expect victims (as this kid is) to behave absolutely perfectly when confronted with police thugishness?

    It’s a perfectly natural thing to get riled when you’re being harassed.

    It’s an amazingly hard thing not to raise your voice.

    It’s humanly unnatural to not snatch your camera back from the man who just took it from you.

    It’s perfectly normal to push back when you’re shoved.

    There’s a bunch of them, they’re bigger, they better trained at violence, they’re armed. And they’re authority figures. Almost anyone will react emotionally – especially when they feel sure they’re in the right.

    I’m not recommending it, I’m just saying I easily understand it.

  41. Wash says:

    Bravo to this young man.

    Of course police officers should be aware of the law. If not, they are dangerously close, as these men were, to making a wrongful arrest.

    Abuse of terrorism laws like this is worrisome. Police need to either be rational in their application or we need to repeal them.

  42. A.Lwin says:

    Forgive me if I go out of topic for a moment, but I feel like I’m living in the time of Socrates or Plato at this moment.

  43. Anonymous says:

    London continuing to give the rest of the UK a bad reputation. It’s an unrecognisably foreign country.

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