In Washington County, 19 year old Caitlin Hoer was at a New Year's Eve party in Blair. Deputies arrived and arrested some teens for alcohol violations. Caitlin was not drinking, tested zero on a breathalizer, and had committed no crime, but she was worried about how the deputies were treating some of the partygoers, so she used her cell phone to start recording the arrests. An officer told her she would be arrested if she didn't stop recording and demanded she turn over her phone. Caitlin refused to give up her property without a warrant, and she was arrested for "obstructing an officer," a charge that was very quickly dismissed by the prosecutor. Caitlin says "I know police have hard jobs, but I have the right to take pictures when I'm worried about how my friends are being treated by police. Getting arrested was embarrassing and seemed like it was just retaliation for me standing up for my rights.
Jesse McGhee is a 41 year old African American business owner. Last July, he was at the Native Omaha Days street festival with friends and family. He'd been carrying his videocamera to record the relaxed festivities, but it became an important piece of equipment when Omaha Police started to arrest his girlfriend. Jesse knew the battery was low, but turned on his camera hoping to capture the interaction. An officer ordered him to hand over the camera. Jesse refused, since the officer did not have a warrant and Jesse hoped the video would help prove the police were using excessive force against his girlfriend. The police Tased Jesse, seized his camera and placed him under arrest for "resisting arrest" and "obstruction of justice," charges which were later dropped entirely by the prosecutor. Jesse only got his camera back after the ACLU accompanied him to the police headquarters to retrieve it. Unfortunately, the battery had run out and no footage was available of the incident. McGhee says, "I am a law-abiding taxpayer. Why would the police try to stop me from filming unless they were worried they are being caught doing something wrong? I know other people at the same festival were told they couldn't take pictures of police, too. This should make everyone worry what the police are hiding from."