Backlash Against the Anthony Graber Arrest

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

The arrest of Maryland motorcyclist Anthony Graber is generating some considerable backlash against the state’s law enforcement officials. Graber was arrested and is being charged with felonies for posting video to YouTube of a cop who pulled his gun on Graber during a traffic stop. I’ve written about Graber here and here, and I discussed the case on WBAL’s Ron Smith show yesterday.

Cato’s David Rittgers has posted his own analysis of how officials are misinterpreting the state’s wiretapping law here. Rittgers also discussed the issue on D.C. NPR affiliate WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi show.

And in a somewhat odd pairing, anarchist writer Wendy McElroy’s write-up of the issue was picked up by Gizmodo. That triggered a link and discussion thread at Slashdot.

It’s good to see this issue picking up steam. As I said on Smith’s show yesterday, there seems to be a big disconnect here between the generalpublic’s attitude on recording cops (the feedback I’ve received has been almost unanimous in support of ensuring that the practice is legal) and the attitudes of law enforcement officials (on-duty cops have a right to privacy) and politicians (generally a position of deference to law enforcement).

The issue is important not just in order to keep law enforcement transparent and accountable, but in that it raises fundamental questions about the nature of individual rights in a free society. The way Marylandofficials are interpreting the state’s wiretapping law, government agents—in this case on-duty cops— have privacy rights in public spaces that ordinary citizens don’t. But state employees acting as state employees don’t have rights. Citizens have rights. Governments and their employees have powers, and only to the extent that those powers have been delegated to them by the people they’re governing.

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53 Responses to “Backlash Against the Anthony Graber Arrest”

  1. #1 |  Matt | 

    “The most valid LEO argument against recording is not “privacy” but keeping secret the identity of undercover agents.”

    The vast majority of undercover agents are engaged in vice persecution. They’re inflicting others’ preferences upon people participating in consensual acts that are labeled illegal.

    That’s nowhere near sufficient justification for dodging the vid-collar and GPS.

  2. #2 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    A couple questions slightly OT:

    1. If talking on your cell phone while driving is so god damn dangerous, why does every cop in NH do it? And, why aren’t the accident rates in NH higher than everywhere else?

    2. If pumping your own gas is so dangerous that only station employees can do it (yes, that’s the law in some places), where are all the “dipshit explodes gas station” stories in NH (where it IS legal to pump your own gas)?

    3. If having auto insurance is such an obvious requirement to avoid absolute damnation on the highways, where is the damnation on the highways of NH (where you do not have to carry auto insurance)?

  3. #3 |  Jim Majkowski | 

    The Pennsylvania case gets better:

    v. :
    PATRICK V. FETTERMAN, et al. : NO. 04-3592
    AND NOW, this day of August, 2005, for the
    reasons set forth in the accompanying Memorandum, it is hereby
    ORDERED that:
    (1) the motion of plaintiff Allen E. Robinson for
    counsel fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) is GRANTED in part
    and DENIED in part;
    (2) plaintiff is awarded counsel fees in the amount
    of $45,352.13; and
    (3) plaintiff is awarded costs in the amount of
    Case 2:04-cv-03592-HB Document 68 Filed 08/26/05 Page 11 of 11

    Plaintiff filed a Satisfaction of Judgment in 2005. No comment as to whether there was a reduction in amount in exchange therefor. How about that?