Civil libertarians on Friday applauded as a federal judge blocked enforcement of an Arizona law restricting how people can film police officers after agreeing that the legislation is unconstitutional.
“Recording law enforcement interactions is one of the best tools to hold police accountable.”
US District Judge John Tuchi granted a preliminary injunction sought by the ACLU of Arizona and media outlets on the grounds that HB 2319 violates their First Amendment rights.
The law—which was passed by Arizona’s Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey in July—outlaws recording police at a distance of closer than eight feet if the officer verbally objects. It also empowers police officers to order people to stop filming them on private property, even if the property owner consents to the recording.
“At a time when recording law enforcement interactions is one of the best tools to hold police accountable, we should be working to protect this vital right—not undermine it,” they added. “HB 2319 is a blatant attempt to prohibit people from exercising their constitutional right to record police in public and we’re glad to see the court take action to stop it from going into effect.”
HB 2319 comes at a time when citizens are increasing empowered by the ability to record and broadcast footage of officer misconduct that is sometimes used to bring perpetrators to justice. Video of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes was a key piece of evidence