Last week, Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona signed a bill into law criminalizing people recording police activity from less than eight feet away. This law will take effect in September. It is intended to deter people from recording police officers or encourage people to film so far away it prevents someone from getting a clear shot, especially since many police altercations can be chaotic and fast moving.
Arizona police have systemically committed violence against the state’s people. The Phoenix Police Department has been ranked number one among the ten largest cities in the U.S. in their use of deadly force. They are ranked in the top 10 for population adjusted killings of Black, Native American, and Hispanic people.
Recording the police has become more common and the filming of police officers and their violence against the poor and people of color has allowed us to see through the lies of police departments. George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis Police Department was filmed, which led to a mass movement across the U.S. and around the world against racist police violence. This in turn led to the convictions of the cops involved. Recording police activity is a threat to police and their unrestrained control over us.
Governors and state legislatures across the country are passing reprehensible copycat laws stripping people of their rights, from voting to reproductive health. Governors from other states could soon follow suit passing their own police filming laws. In fact, they could push the limits further, not stopping at eight feet but extending it further.
We are seeing our rights being taken away by the people in power. The attacks on our ability to film the police is an attack on our safety. Not being able to film the police will allow them to act even more recklessly, putting ourselves and our communities in ever more danger. We must not let them push us one step back; we deserve to live in a world where we have access to safe abortions and can leave the house without facing police brutality, not just in Arizona but across the world.