Lawsuit: Police must release protest videos

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.citizen-times.com

Mountain Moral Monday drew an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 people to Pack Square Park in August. The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, was the featured speaker.(Photo: Citizen-Times photo)

ASHEVILLE – The Citizen-Times is asking a judge to order police to make public dozens of video recordings of political gatherings and demonstrations, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

The newspaper, in the lawsuit, says keeping the recordings secret will have a “chilling effect” on the First Amendment right of the public to demonstrate.

The lawsuit alleges the videos — made since 1980 — are covered by North Carolina’s public records law. Police are not using the records as part of ongoing criminal investigations, according to the lawsuit.

Police have gathered no actionable criminal evidence from recording public gatherings, a city spokeswoman has said. Police have about 60 recordings.

They range from the Mountain Moral Mondays rally in August to a gun rights rally in November to environmental protests last year and eight Occupy Asheville events.

Police have also recorded tea party tax rallies, immigration protests, street preachers at Bele Chere anti-war rallies and abortion protests. The earliest recordings are from KKK rallies in the 1980s.

“We feel it’s the public’s legal right to have access to these video archives,” said Dave Neill, president and publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times. “The newspaper is committed to…

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