Cameras Ain’t Illegal, Observer Tells Cops

     PHILADELLPHIA (CN) – Philadelphia police roughed up a psychotherapist and “trained legal observer” for photographing an arrest of an anti-fracking demonstrator at the Philadelphia Convention Center, she claims in court.
     Amanda Geraci sued Philadelphia and four named police officers on Monday in Federal Court.
     It is the fifth lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Pennsylvania since 2013 concerning unlawful apprehension of citizens photographing police officers.
     Until Monday, the most recent came in July when a Temple University student was handcuffed after photographing police officers arrest partygoers near the university.
     Geraci claims she was observing a protest against hydraulic fracking at the convention center when a man was taken inside because officers said he had struck one of them with a wooden spoon he was using to play an improvised instrument.
     Defendant Officer Dawn Brown yelled at Geraci not to interfere with the arrest, then pinned her against a pillar supporting the convention center, Geraci says.
     “Ms. Geraci responded to defendant Officer Brown in a calm, professional tone which she is trained to use to de-escalate tense situations and attempted to minimize defendant Officer Brown’s aggression,” the complaint states.
     Other officers surrounded Geraci and Brown to prevent further photographing.
     Geraci says that when Brown released her, she had red marks on her neck where Brown had restrained her.
     “The defendant officers’ actions were motivated by their efforts to retaliate against Ms. Geraci for her actions in attempting to photograph other Philadelphia police officers conducting an arrest of a political demonstrator,” the complaint states.
     Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has sent numerous memoranda to police officers informing them of citizens’ right to photograph officers in the course of their jobs, but has not implemented proper training, according to the complaint.
     Geraci seek damages for First Amendment retaliation and unlawful use of force.
     She is represented by Molly Tack-Hooper with the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

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