Our friends at CheckpointUSA.org, in conjunction with CopBlock.org and others, are holding a contest for the best video or other educational content that “demystifies” roadblocks and your rights when stopped.
Details are here. The contest is open through midnight EST, April 8, 2013, and the entry that “does the best job educating others about checkpoints in general and your rights in particular while seized at one” gets a high-definition digital video camera, complete with dashboard mounting kit and other mounting options.
Thanks to CheckpointUSA.org, we’ve been trying out one of these cameras, and they are perfect for recording what happens at checkpoints and other encounters with illegitimate authority.
For inspiration, check out this compilation of videos of what happens when people assert their rights at checkpoints, as discussed recently in this interview on KPBS in San Diego, where almost everyone has to pass through “border control” checkpoints regularly, even if they aren’t crossing the border.
It’s sad that always-on dashboard video recorders, which have become de rigueur for Russian drivers for protection against corrupt police, have now become necessary in the USA as well. But as Terri Bressi of CheckpointUSA.org — one of the judges in the current contest, and the hero of his own saga of encounters with police checkpoints — says:
One of the biggest lessons I learned during my ten year legal battle with … police and the federal government regarding an illegal general law enforcement checkpoint encounter … was that government agents and police officers will readily lie under oath to obfuscate facts detrimental to their position and make up other facts to support it. What also became clear as I worked my way through the maze of the ‘justice system’ was that too many judges are more than willing to take the word of a police officer or other government agent over that of a non-affiliated member of the public, even when eyewitness testimony & other evidence directly contradicts the testimony of a government agent.
Since I had no video of the actual encounter that took place at that checkpoint in December of 2002, it was quite easy for the court system to bury the evidence that was most damning to the police & undermine my attempts at bringing accountability to the individuals & agencies directly involved. Realizing the importance that video would have had during legal proceedings, I quickly rectified my mistake & purchased my first digital camera in 2003. Since then, I’ve gradually upgraded and expanded my recording capability while traveling along public highways to better protect myself against the arbitrary aggression of government agents of all stripes.
Now that my ten year legal journey is finally over regarding that initial checkpoint experience, I’ve been looking for a way to assist others to legally protect themselves against the arbitrary & aggressive encroachment of the state into the daily lives of peaceful individuals. To that end, I’ve really appreciated the exposure Carlos Miller has given to the issue of recording public servants in the public sphere on his website, Photography Is Not A Crime, along with Judge Napolitano’s declaration from a few years ago that The Camera Is The New Gun….
We’ll post a link to the winning entry as soon as the contest results are announced.