The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against a law in the state that bans members of the public from recording police within 8 feet of a “law enforcement activity.”
The lawsuit states that the law, which Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed last month, violates the First Amendment, suppressing the right to free speech and limiting accountability and protests of government actions.
The law states that people cannot record the law enforcement activity if they know or reasonably should know that the activity is occurring. They are also are prohibited from recording if an officer has warned them about capturing the incident within 8 feet.
The law defines a law enforcement activity as questioning a “suspicious” person, conducting an arrest, issuing a summons, enforcing the law or handling an “emotionally disturbed or disorderly person” exhibiting “abnormal” behavior.
A release from the ACLU states that recording police encounters and other law enforcement activity in public is one of the few ways that members of a community and journalists can hold police accountable for misconduct, the Hill reports.
Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh (R), who sponsored the legislation, said in a March op-ed that having the law as a “buffer” is necessary, as police may not know if someone approaching is an innocent bystander or an accomplice to someone they are arresting.