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Arizona will ban citizens from filming police officers within 8 feet

A law in the US state of Arizona will ban people from filming police officers at short distances, with possible fines or jail for those who don’t comply.

Critics call the law a threat to free speech and the right to a free press.

Police are often filmed by bystanders and footage has occasionally resulted in officer misconduct being exposed.




The law comes into effect on 24 September and will make it illegal to film police officers in the state within a distance of 8 feet.

People who ignore a verbal warning and continue filming risk a misdemeanour charge and up to 30 days in jail.

The law, however, makes exceptions for people interacting with police, or in enclosed area on private property.



State representative John Kavanagh who sponsored the bill, argued it is necessary because “groups hostile to the police” sometimes “get dangerously close to potentially violent encounters”

Opponents of the law, however, say it attempts to discourage people from exercising their rights to film on public property, violating their constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights to free speech.

Bystander footage of police encounters with the public has played a prominent role in the debate over police misconduct and brutality, particularly against African Americans.

Video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin which was taken by a 17-year-old bystander later proved to be a key part in the case against the officer.