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Photographer harassed by cop for filming

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Police quite often arrest individuals for criminal trespass (usually after an earlier warning) at public housing property. Even if the person is an invited visitor of a tenant.

In a court case regarding the minor Jason Allen, Allen was arrested for criminal trespass, even though he was invited there by his brother. His conviction was overturned because of the aforementioned brother's invitation.

In a case out of Kokomo, Indiana (a bit north of Indianapolis) a man named Alan Bowen filmed an interaction by a Kokomo officer during a stop. Bowen appeared to be filming from the sidewalk.

The officer demanded I.D. from Mr. Bowen after observing him filming this stop.

In fact, the officer states during the stop with Bowen, "my concern is you over here filming, I don't know who you are." So?. Did the officer really believe the man filming him was a threat to him? Did filming become reasonable suspicion of a crime?

Also, during the interaction, the man's girlfriend, a resident of the Kokomo Housing Authority, makes it quite clear that he is a guest of hers. Finally, they are on the sidewalk, which is public and not quasi-restricted, as with KHA property.

The fact is that Mr. Bowen, like thousands of other Americans over the past few years, was harassed by an officer for engaging in his/her First Amendment speech and press rights. In fact, the officer admitted as such. The Constitution still applies outside of a public housing authority.

The Kokomo Police Department and the Housing Authority should feel shame for allowing such violations to occur. I wish to thank the website, Photography is not a Crime, for bringing this and other cases to my attention.

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