It Isn’t a Crime When the Government Does It

Monday, November 12th, 2012

So remember when Chicago police were arresting people for recording them, and charging them with crimes punishable by 10 or more years in prison? Remember the woman who was arrested and charged because she attempted to record Chicago PD internal affairs police browbeating her when she tried to report a sexual assault by a Chicago cop? Remember all that stuff we heard from Chicago PD and Cook County DA Anita Alvarez’s office about protecting privacy?

So this happened . . .

[A] court filing in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city raised questions about whether a city spokeswoman had recorded Tribune reporters without their consent as they conducted a phone interview with Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in October 2011.

And in separate incidents this past September, city spokespeople twice recorded a Tribune reporter as he conducted phone interviews with a top city official involved in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial speed camera program. The spokespeople acknowledged that they independently recorded the interviews without asking the reporter for consent.

Gerould Kern, senior vice president and editor of the Tribune, declined to comment Friday about the recordings. Instead, he cited the letter sent by Tribune Co. attorney Karen Flax to Patton, demanding that city officials cease recording Tribune reporters without consent. The letter also asked that the city preserve copies of all recorded conversations and turn them over to the Tribune.

In its response Saturday, the city said it was unclear whether there would be any tapes to turn over. While City Hall acknowledged the two improper September recordings, it insisted they were mistakes.

“What we have told city employees is that our position is that you follow the law,” City Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said Friday. “And when this issue was brought to the city’s attention, we reminded employees to continue following the law.”

If you work for the government and you violate a the law in order to record journalists who cover the government, you get a gentle “reminder.” If you’re someone like Michael Allison, Tiawanda Moore, or Christopher Drew and you violate a bad law in order to expose government abuse, you get arrested, cuffed, jailed, and charged with felonies.

Seems about right.

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22 Responses to “It Isn’t a Crime When the Government Does It”

  1. #1 |  Reformed Republican | 

    It is one of the perks, kind of like an employee discount.

  2. #2 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Doesn’t surprise me. Illinois is the Florida of the Midwest,
    and they (FLA) cannot even add votes, ie simple arithmetic.
    All this fear over photography/videography is just fear of people
    capturing the truth:
    I wonder if cops actually *know* this or it’s going on under the
    surface… down in the primordial limbic system and brain stem.

  3. #3 |  Angie | 

    Sometimes I think I should just give up. Everyday people just aren’t angry enough about this to do anything. To create any change. As has been said …

    It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices. – Chief Justice Roberts

    … how long have you been at this now Radley? Calling out the same issues time and time again. Instead of any improvement, seems we just see more and more of the same.

    Probably just post-election blahs talking.

  4. #4 |  Bob | 

    “…we reminded employees to continue following the law.”

    continue?

  5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ Angie,

    People have always been complacent. It’s easy for people to think things are worse now. I think that way a lot. But the sad fact is, The Land of the Free has been pretty shitty to people at all levels of government since day one.

    Where we make some great gains in freedom, we just end up sacrificing freedoms in other areas. It’s almost like people by and large can only concentrate on one freedom issue at a time, allowing the control freaks to take away freedoms where we aren’t focusing our collective outrage.

  6. #6 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Illinois is the Florida of the Midwest,

    More like “Chicago is the Florida of the Midwest”. Outside of Chicago, the state is pretty sane (in a pig-farmer way).

    I don’t think government will change until there is a very powerful competitor that starts siphoning off capital.

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    Worse, is that the citizen’s were arrested for recording in public places where there was no reasonable expectation of privacy, while I assume the journalists were interviewing the superintendent in an office.

  8. #8 |  Cynical in New York | 

    I would laugh if it wasn’t so sad. Government has to be the only job in which you can be found dead to rights guilty and still receive a paycheck.

  9. #9 |  Pi Guy | 

    Being from MD I’m only vaguely familiar with the laws here. What I know is that the State’s Attorney General had to issue a statement informing LEOs that videotaping them in in the course of performing their duties in public is not a violation of the state’s wiretapping law. IOW, taping a conversation without warning the other party – who’s likely assumed a private conversation is taking place – is still against the law. In public, no such restriction exists.

  10. #10 |  Bergman | 

    There’s also the evidence tampering aspect.

    Some random guy breaks the law and destroys a piece of evidence the government wants: Felony charges and prison time.

    Someone who is ostensibly highly educated in the law and the responsibilities of government deletes an illegal recording that is evidence of their crime: A gentle reminder to follow the law and the matter is forgotten.

  11. #11 |  JLS | 

    See, Nixon was right after all!

  12. #12 |  C.E. | 

    Obviously it should be perfectly legal to record police officers engaging in their duties in view of the public, and it should be legal for members of the public to record their interactions with the police.

    But maybe I’m naive for not seeing what’s so offensive about recording members of the media conducting interviews with public officials, especially if those interviews are on the record?

  13. #13 |  Weird Willy | 

    “…maybe I’m naive for not seeing what’s so offensive about recording members of the media conducting interviews with public officials, especially if those interviews are on the record?”

    No, you don’t seem naive, you merely seem to be missing the essential point of this discussion. The issue is not whether it is offensive for someone to record members of the media conducting interviews, it is the fact that a double-standard is being applied to give politicos virtually complete impunity to engage in behavior of a similar ilk but far worse than that which characteristically prompts the vicious, aggressive pursuit and persecution of private citizens. *That* is what is being addressed here.

  14. #14 |  Steve Verdon | 

    And this is why voting is so important, because with democracy and voting things like this never ever happen.

  15. #15 |  Personanongrata | 

    Arbitrary rule via fiat; aka tyranny.

  16. #16 |  liberranter | 

    I see emerging a compelling new case for “citizens arrests” of state-employed scum becoming the new norm. “Citizens trials and penalties” should follow.

  17. #17 |  croaker | 

    @16 If you want to end up like John Brown go right ahead. The government has a few words for actions like that: Insurrection, rebellion, treason.

  18. #18 |  rodsmith | 

    It’s hardly treason to conduct a legal “citizen’s arrest” and then have a trial and using THIER OWN LAW!

  19. #19 |  Militant Libertarian » It Isn’t a Crime When the Government Does It | 

    […] The Agitator […]

  20. #20 |  liberranter | 

    Croaker, be sure to ask your masters for a PADDED thrall collar. It’ll be much more comfortable.

  21. #21 |  theCL Report: A Man-Made Disaster | 

    […] It Isn't a Crime When the Government Does It […]

  22. #22 |  Links 16/11/2012: Fedora 19 is Schrödinger’s Cat, Android Grabs 90% Smartphones Share in China | Techrights | 

    […] It Isn’t a Crime When the Government Does It So remember when Chicago police were arresting people for recording them, and charging them with crimes punishable by 10 or more years in prison? Remember the woman who was arrested and charged because she attempted to record Chicago PD internal affairs police browbeating her when she tried to report a sexual assault by a Chicago cop? Remember all that stuff we heard from Chicago PD and Cook County DA Anita Alvarez’s office about protecting privacy? […]

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