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A federal judge has blocked the enforcement of a new Arizona law restricting how the public can film police.
U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi sided with the American Civil Liberties Union and numerous media organizations who argued that the law was a violation of the First Amendment.
The bill, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in July, makes it illegal to knowingly film police officers 8 feet or closer without an officer’s permission. An individual on private property with the owner’s consent can also be ordered to stop recording if a police officer finds they are interfering or deem the area unsafe. The law also extended to journalists.
In August, the ACLU’s Arizona chapter filed the petition in U.S. District Court.
“This law is a violation of a vital constitutional right and will severely thwart attempts to build police accountability. It must be struck down before it creates irreparable community harm,” the ACLU wrote in a statement at the time.
Since the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, cellphone videos have been greatly credited with revealing police misconduct. However, Republican Arizona lawmakers argued in favor of the law, saying the legislation aimed to limit people with cameras who purposefully impede officers.
“We are extremely gratified that Arizonans will not have their constitutional rights infringed and their ability to record the police criminalized by this law,” K.M. Bell, an attorney for the Arizona ACLU, told NBC News. “Today’s ruling is an incredible win for our First Amendment rights and will allow Arizonans to continue to hold police accountable.”
She added, “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.”