Penn. activist facing 8 years in prison after videotaping officers outside courthouseBy Carlos Miller, Photography is Not a Crime
George Donnelly, the Pennsylvania videographer who was arrested last week for videotaping federal officers in front of an Allentown courthouse, is facing eight years in prison for his deed.
He is specifically being accused of striking one of the officers.
Anybody who has seen the two previous videos where Donnelly was confronted by federal officers in front of a courthouse will find these charges hard to believe.
After all, Donnelly has a tendency to remain courteous even when getting threatened with violence.
Nevertheless, the federal government is charging him with assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain United States Government officers or employees, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.
The evidence, of course, lies in the videotape they confiscated from him. We’ll be lucky if that ever makes the light of day.
When contacted by Photography is Not a Crime today, Donnelly said he was not commenting about his case.
But Libertadedia, described as the libertarian encyclopedia, offers detailed information obtained from court records.
The site states he has been subjected to the following conditions under house arrest, even though he has not been convicted:
Donnelly was arrested on May 11th when he was accompanying activist Julian Heicklens who was passing out literature on jury nullification.
- Bail in the amount of $50,000
- Defendant shall submit to random drug testing as directed by pretrial services
- Defendant shall undergo drug/alcohol treatment if necessary, as determined by pretrial services
- Defendant shall submit to electronic monitoring
- Defendant must obtain a land line
- Defendant may drive to food store three times per week, and must submit receipts to pretrial services, with prior approval of pretrial services
- Travel restricted to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Defendant shall surrender and/or refrain from obtaining or applying for a passport
- Defendant shall surrender and/or refrain from obtaining any firearms
- Defendant shall have no contact with co-defendants in this case, or individuals engaged in any criminal activity
- Defendant may not publicize names, images or locations of officers or release information to anyone else
This is how Heicklens describes the incident:
At 12:10 pm, six federal marshals approached us in a confrontational manner and said we could not pass out literature nor take pictures. They stood right in front of each of us, no more than 6 inches away, so that we could not communicate with passersby. These were 6 of the most obnoxious people I have ever met. Heicklens states that Donnelly was released after spending two days in jail, forced to wear an electronic bracelet because he was unable to meet the $50,000 bail.
We asked the marshals to identify themselves, but they refused. We would not identify ourselves.
George attempted to take a picture, but they seized George's camera. He attempted to retrieve it, but they they threw George to the ground. Then they decided to arrest him for assault. They were joined by a 7th marshal.
Last month, Donnelly was harassed twice for videotaping outside a federal courthouse, including one time when a federal officer got into his face and stated the following:
"If you get too close to me with that camera, I'll take it out of your hand and ram it down your throat" Although this was clearly a physical threat and there is no doubt who it came from, the officer was never disciplined because he was still working his beat since then, according to an interview with Donnelly a couple of weeks back.
The second time he was harassed, a different set of officers threatened to confiscate his camera.
Both times, he responded politely yet firmly, insisting that he was not breaking any laws, which he wasn’t.
So I’m looking forward to see how he responded in the video we have yet to see.
On his blog, Donnelly says he does not have an attorney and is asking for legal assistance, so hopefully people come through because this is an important matter. Here is the link to donate.
Article by Carlos Miller
My name is Carlos Miller and I am a Miami multimedia journalist with more than ten years of professional experience who has been arrested twice since 2007 for photographing police against their wishes. I started this blog to document developments in my first court case. Today, after beating both arrests, Photography is Not a Crime is renowned nationally for documenting these types of abuses, which occur on an almost daily basis.
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