Seattle police want to videotape protests, ask for change in city law

At Occupy the Port last fall, demonstrators threw paint and bricks at police

By PoliceOne Staff

SEATTLE — Police are asking city council to update a law to allow for surveillance of crowds during protests.

Police point to last fall's clash at Occupy the Port, where demonstrators threw paint and bricks at police. Officers started to film once the trouble began, but turning on cameras sooner might have prevented the violence.

Under the Seattle Municipal Code, officers need a cause to collect information about city residents.

"No person shall become the subject of the collection of information on account of lawful exercise of a constitutional right or civil liberty," the law says.

"The police department would do open videotaping of demonstrations for the sole intent of protecting those who are exercising the First Amendment from those who would harm them," said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, Seattle Police Department.

Jennifer Shaw of the ACLU says "people in an open and free society should expect to engage in political activity without surveillance," according to the Associated Press

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