The Go Film the Police campaign is a call to film racist police violence to make police brutality as a from of organized violence visible, as well as to demand police accountability.
Police claim that they are not racist and/or otherwise discriminatory, that they only use force when provoked and/or threatened. So why do they try so hard to avoid being filmed then?
We regularly hear and see witnesses of racist police violence being criminalized when they offer themselves as witnesses or film and make the abuse of power by the police visible. They are threatened, beaten up, their phones are confiscated, video material deleted and are charged with offenses such as “resistance against law enforcement officers”. The police repeatedly invoke the so-called “eavesdropping paragraph” § 201 StGB (violation of the confidentiality of the word). This states that anyone who unauthorizedly “records the non-publicly spoken word of another on a sound carrier” commits a criminal offense. However, it also states that “it (…) is not unlawful (if) the public communication is made in order to safeguard overriding public interests.” At the same time, the police claim that filming is prohibited.
However, as many legal experts as well as some courts have also acknowledged, police actions in public spaces can never be understood as “non-public”. Therefore the intrumentalization of this paragraph by the police must be stopped, who try to use it strategically to deligitimize evidence and criminalize those affected by their violence.
We are convinced that it is time to act as an alliance against this violent practice of the police and demand the decriminalisation of filming police actions. In a democratic constitutional state, individuals must have the possibility to document unlawful police behaviour. Only in this way can the police be controlled in their work and made accountable. It must be made politically clear that video recordings of police actions are admissible as evidence in court. They serve to make racist police violence visible and to identify and convict violent police officers. Filming must not be prevented. We also demand that any confiscation of cell phones and/or the deleting of videos by the police is prohibited.
Goals of the campaign include:
- Informing and raising awareness in the public about police brutality
- Collectively making racist police violence visible
- Decriminalizing the recording of police actions for witnesses as well as victims
- Banning confiscation of cell phones and banning the deletion of video recordings by police
- Accepting video recordings as evidence in court
- Police oversight and accountability
- Identification, legal prosecution and conviction of criminal police officers
The campaign also encourages people to record police violence on video themselves. Go Film the Police!
Read our Open letter, and we have just published a guide about filming police in the German legal context. The guide is currently available in German, English, French and Arabic.