The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department this week, claiming the department has used excessive force repeatedly to stop civilians from filming officers in public in recent years, according to court papers.
The suit, which centers on a woman's accusation that she was physically struck and restrained while filming an arrest at an environmental protest in 2012, contends the department has repeatedly violated its own policy, which calls for officers to allow themselves to be filmed in public.
"We've seen a pattern of this kind of policing with incidents as early as 2010, and this is actually our fifth lawsuit on behalf of someone who was arrested or... restrained for trying to record or even just observe the police performing their duties in public," Molly Tack-Hooper, an attorney with the Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU, told the Los Angeles Times.
Amanda Geraci, a therapist and legal counselor to demonstrators, said an officer thrust a forearm across her neck and physically restrained her while she filmed an arrest near the city's convention center.
"I think it's pretty clear that we shouldn't be stopping people from doing that. It's clearly within the realm of their 1st Amendment rights," he said. "Despite some officers being upset about it, in the end, it probably protects them, too."