Last week, DNAinfo reported that NYPD officers have been shooing away black teenagers from around Park Slope. NY1 decided to follow-up that story by going to John Jay High School and interviewing students about NYPD school safety officers, who they learned routinely drive students away from the school. They also had a run-in with these officers, who apparently don't know that the sidewalk is public property, and anyone has the right to videotape cops (so long as they're not interfering with police work). And NY1 got a broken camera for their troubles.
You can see the full report, including the video, here.
Here's how NY1 describes what happened on Tuesday when they were approached by the safety officer across the street from the school:
Safety officer: Let's go. Let's go. Got to go. Let's go. That means you got to go. Let's go. Christ: Wait. Why do they have to go? Safety officer: You got to get that off my face. Not on me. On them. Not on me. Christ: You're allowed to shoot the NYPD at any point.
With that, she broke the lens guards off our camera. When we got the camera back on, she put her hat over the lens.
NY1 had at least two other similar interactions with officers; at one point, the school safety agents called in people from the local precinct, who explained to them that NY1 was well within their rights.
Clearly these safety officers did not pay attention (or receive) this internal memo which was distributed to all police commands early in August. "Members of the public are legally allowed to record police interactions," the memo reads. "Intentional interference such as blocking or obstructing cameras or ordering the person to cease constitutes censorship and also violates the First Amendment."
One more time, in case anyone hasn't been listening: photographing and videotaping anything in public view, including federal buildings and the police, is completely legal in NYC, so long as the documentation doesn't impede any law enforcement activity.
However, breaking someone else's camera is not, as far as we can tell, legal.