US history of media blackouts during hurricane disasters increase the cause of citizen journalism
BTC- During Hurricane Ike I was threatened with arrest or citation in an attempt to document DHS practices with citizens. My quest was to find out whether they were forced to forgo any rights because they were in the path of a hurricane disaster. I was specifically concerned about demand for identity articles in order to gain access to the FEMA hurricane relief center in Round Rock, Texas in 2008, what was in or on their bracelets, what was being asked of citizens, what their movement limitations were (if any) and how they were being treated. Why would I take such a job on myself?
So there were no reporters present to document anything of the sort.
In 2005, paramilitary police were hired by Louisiana’s governor to “assist” in the Katrina disaster. Shortly following you may have seen videos of citizens who did lose basic rights and suffered damages.
Among those basic rights, was the 1st amendment right to a free press. There was an attempt to gag or censure CNN from continued reporting of the human conditions in New Orleans after Katrina.
Here is a list of articles compiled by citizens about events surrounding Katrina citing witness of expiditious disposal of unknown dead, police brutality, and illegal search and seizure of guns in a very treacherous time.
So here we are, right in the seat of hurricane season. It might be time to review our rights as citizen jounalists, exactly the type who can make a difference. One of the G-20 videos shot by a bystander, featured in this video, made a difference in prosecuting police brutality towards a student. So never doubt your improptu role in using those phone cameras and video cams.
Luckily for all of us, you can take this *free* online course offerred by the Cato Institute on how to watch out for yourself and your rights to document events during a situation where police have hand of force.
“Should it be illegal to record the police? Several high-profile cases of police brutality have been exposed by citizens who recorded police actions with cell phones. Yet some state wiretapping laws, written before the age of ubiquitous recording devices, prohibit recording these events and then further criminalize the publication of the recordings on the Internet. Does the First Amendment protect citizen journalism, or do police agents have a right to privacy while performing public duties? Please join us as we discuss this timely and provocative topic.”