THE BLOG
08/14/2014 02:19 pm ET | Updated Oct 14, 2014

New York Candidate for Governor Arrested for Videotaping Police

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Randy Credico, Governor Andrew Cuomo's opponent in the upcoming September 9 Democratic Primary was arrested and handcuffed yesterday for making a video of two white police officers arresting a Black man in the subway.

Late last night I received a call from New York gubernatorial candidate Randy Credico who told me he was arrested yesterday afternoon by two plain clothes transit cops at the Van Courtland Park subway stop while on his way to a campaign interview in Westchester.

When Randy saw two white men aggressively stopping a Black man, he began videoing the incident with his cell phone, not knowing that the two white men were transit police. The two police didn't like being videoed, so they arrested Randy. Credico was charged with menacing a police officer, obstructing government administration and resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

The issue of videotaping police is no stranger to Credico. In the past he had initiated a project in Harlem, New York that provided local residents with video cameras to halt the use of police violence against innocent civilians. When I met him 17 years ago I was fresh out of prison when I did a stint for a non-violent drug crime under the Rockefeller Drug Laws of New York. At that time he was the Director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice. Together we co-founded the New York Mothers of the Disappeared, the leading activist organization that fought to change New York's harsh and racially discriminatory drug laws.

The organization also had a project that involved reporting on and taking photos of undercover detectives who use excessive force in arresting people for simple violations of marijuana laws. Credico is a veteran activist against the drug war and its harmful consequences on society. According to Credico, it was an instinctive move to videotape the assault to try and help what he thought was a crime in progress. Randy has been a frequent public critic of the police, attacking their stop-and-frisk policies and the racial profiling that he says is endemic in the police department.

Credico, speaking from a holding cell told talk show host Fred Dicker this morning that the undercover cop got right in his face, and said, you got to move back. The next thing he knew he was arrested. It was something out of a Dostoevsky book. Credico said the police were very brutal with him, clamping his handcuffs so tightly that he has knots all over his hands.

He appears in two films about the war on drugs. "60 Spins Around the Sun" chronicles Credico's crusade fighting the New York's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws . Credico is also featured in "Lockdown USA," a documentary about the 2004 reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws featuring hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

Randy is currently being held in Bronx Central Booking. The police refuse to give him an appearance ticket (that is, release him with an order to show up in court on a specified date), claiming that he has an outstanding warrant for disorderly conduct from 2012. Randy denies this. As a candidate for governor, he is highly visible. He is in the news every day, and has made several court appearances. If there really was an outstanding warrant, he would have been picked up long before this.

Moreover, Randy's arrest is doubly ironic in light of New York's own Police Department Patrol Guide, which states that "taking photographs, videotapes or tape recordings" are not cause for arrest or detention so long as the activity does not jeopardize the safety of officers or others.

According to the New York Times, federal rulings in Baltimore, Boston and Indianapolis affirm that recording officers in public places is protected by the Constitution. But there has been no court decision recognizing that right in New York. However, there is a federal lawsuit currently filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan that seeks a permanent injunction barring New York City employees (including police) from retaliating against those who record them in public.