Earlier this week on December 8, 2014, cell phone footage emerged on YouTube showing a Baltimore Police officer attacking and arresting a woman for filming other officers arrest a man across the street.
No, not Makia Smith, who in March of 2012 had experienced a very similar incident, after she was beaten after filming Baltimore Police officers beat a man.
Earlier this year, Kianga Mwamba was filming police arrest a man while stopped at a red light. When officers demanded that she move, she attempted to explain that she couldn’t because officers were standing in front of her vehicle. Shortly afterwards, officers dragged her out of her vehicle and tazing her before before being placed under arrest. Officers then attempted to delete the film she had captured, however unable to do so.
Charges were later dropped when the evidence in the film proved officers had lied. Officers had accused Mwamba of attempting to hit officers with her car – an accusation that has gotten many people in Baltimore (and beyond) shot (and killed), such as Thomas Mims, earlier this year.
Right around the same time the incident had occurred, a Baltimore Bloc member and homeless rights veteran, Tony Simmons testified before the Public Safety Committee and the Baltimore Police command staff that he too had his cell phone broken after filming officers harass a homeless friend of his at the corner of 25th and Greenmount.
The officer had told the homeless man that he wasn’t allowed “around here,” and then proceeded to take what little money he had and rip it up in front of the camera. Eventually the officer forced the Tony’s friend into his patrol vehicle and drove him up to Towson before leaving him stranded without shoes.
After hearing Simmons’ experience, a Baltimore Police commander met with him and took a report, however still to this day there hasn’t been a response from them.
Before any of these incidents had occurred, the Baltimore Police Department had published General Order J-16 in November 2011, which stated that “no member of the Baltimore Police Department may prevent or prohibit any person’s ability to observe, photograph, and/or make a video recording (with or without a simultaneous audio recording) of police activity that occurs in the public domain…”