VIDEO: Was peaceful Occupy activist arrested in downtown Mpls just for filming police?

david cummer arrest.jpg
Cummer, shown being arrested during the May 11 demonstration, says he was singled out because he was filming police.
On May 11, 56-year-old Minneapolis resident David Cummer was calmly using his iPhone to film police during the 1% Against Democracy rally in downtown Minneapolis when a group of officers approached him and suddenly placed him under arrest.

"You decide to leave, if not, you're going to be arrested," one officer tells him. "Are you going to leave?" the officer asks. Moments later, the officer directs Cummer to place his "hands behind your back" and handcuffs him.

Cummer was ostensibly arrested for blocking traffic, but at the time about 100 people were milling in the intersection of Hennepin & 8th. Traffic was going to remain blocked whether Cummer stood in the street or not. "The real issue was that I'd been filming them," Cummer says.

"The police shouldn't be doing that," Cummer said, adding that the last time he was arrested was 20 years ago when a group he was affiliated with protested at an Aquatennial parade.

Cummer, who has taken part in Minneapolis Occupy protests since last year, said he believes he was the only person arrested during the May 11 demonstration.

"I was singled out for filming the police, but it's very important to film them -- they do a lot of things wrong," he added.

The issue of both citizen and professional journalists being arrested for filming police is hardly unique to Minneapolis. Just today, MSNBC published a report entitled "'First Amendment rights can be terminated': When cops, cameras don't mix" that contains the following nugget -- since last September, 70 journalists have been arrested while filming public protests.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the National Press Photographers Association writes that "the First Amendment has come under assault on the streets of America... Police have arrested dozens of journalists and activists simply for attempting to document political protests in public spaces."

Despite the string of arrests, the MSNBC report notes that "First Amendment law is clear: Citizens in public spaces have a right to film things they see in plain sight. Courts have repeatedly upheld that right in high-profile cases."

Following his arrest, Cummer went to Mayor RT Rybak's office to try and show the footage of the incident to somebody working in the mayor's office. Much to his surprise, Cummer ran into Rybak himself as he approached the office and was able to show the mayor the footage of his arrest.
cummer arrest police.jpg
Officers, plastic handcuffs in tow, approach Cummer moments before he was arrested.

According to Cummer, Rybak told him to contact another city employee to share his concerns about the arrest, but Cummer told the mayor he wouldn't do that because he doesn't trust the city. "My feeling is the mayor very much wants this to just go away," Cummer said.

The footage also reveals that police gave Cummer an unduly hard time about his proof of identification. Cummer presented police with a passport card, but officers gave him grief for not having a Minnesota ID.

"There better be something else besides that!" an officer says, referring to the passport. "You got no ID, you'll go to jail."

Cummer, in fact, never went to jail, and it appears his citation for blocking traffic has also mysteriously disappeared from the city's records. He says he's repeatedly contacted the Hennepin County District Court in the three weeks since his arrest to get an update on if and when he'll have to appear in court, but was recently told by a court employee that they can't find a record of his citation. Perhaps Mayor Rybak isn't the only one who wants the whole incident to just go away.

Without further ado, here's the raw footage of Cummer's arrest:
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13 comments
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Firebyrd
Firebyrd

Unbelievable!  I have a hard time realizing this was in my state.  Makes me want to get out a camera ad take some pictures.

bacchys
bacchys

You don't have to carry identification with you.  You are required to identify yourself to the police when they have lawfully detained you.  It's the only question you have to answer: who you are. 

I wonder what country Officer Queen thinks he is in?

JS
JS

 Israel, by all appearances. You wouldn't believe what the soldiers there do to Palestinians on a daily basis.  But then, the media ignores it and focuses on the latest Kar-trashian attention-seeking bid, so why would you know?

Solarhiker1
Solarhiker1

A passport can't be used as an ID but Obummer can skip on the no birth certificate thing.

Stalin
Stalin

fuck off and die

truckload_bear
truckload_bear

Somebody needs to inform Officer Asshole that a valid US Passport is considered ID.

johns
johns

I was there, the answer is yes.

ftp
ftp

The man in the parka is another activist.  He wasnt singled out because he wasnt up in the cops faces when they made the dispersal order.  Cummings, though, should not have been singled out or charged with any crime.  There was hundreds in the street at the time that he was arrested.  MPD dont like you videotaping them, I have also been assaulted and arrested and charged by mpd for filming them....I suggest video tape EVERY chance you get. 

ftp
ftp

I witnessed this and videotaped it as well.  They definitely singled him out.  He was the only one they went after when they gave the dispersal.  He was however, way too close to them to act like he was innocent.  Yet, he was still singled out and arrested for filming the police.  No real need for his arrest. 

Robert Chambers
Robert Chambers

They take passports to cross international borders and not state ID but it wasn't good enough for him. What are the cops going to do when the people get tired of this and the people bumb rush the police

Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Jo Sorensen

In the Cummer footage, a person wearing a parka in the foreground looks as if he's holding a camera or phone (obscured by his head, but the corner of a device is visible at 00:22) and taping the police. He also turns around and follows the action around the 00:56 point.

This observation doesn't let the police off the hook. Instead, the police seem to be singling Cummer out, not only from among a group of people blocking traffic but from those filming law enforcement.

Does anyone know who the man in the parka is? It looks like he taped Cummer getting singled out and getting arrested. Is this person the source of the still of Cummer getting arrested? Or was there a third person photographing the police officers' action as well.

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