Today, the ACLU of Hawaii submitted an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the case of Kahle v. Villaflor in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.
In April 2010, Mitch Kahle was ejected from the Hawaii Senate Chambers after objecting to an unconstitutional prayer at the opening of Senate business. Kevin Hughes was filming the objection, and when Kahle was ejected from the Senate Chambers, Hughes followed him outside.
Hughes continued to film the incident, and was assaulted by State officials. As seen in Hughes' video of the incident, Ben Villafor (the Sergeant at Arms) approached Hughes and punched Hughes’ video camera. He then said something like, “Get that camera,” after which State officials surrounded and attacked Hughes (damaging his camera, sending him to the hospital, and trampling his First Amendment rights).
This is, unfortunately, part of a disturbing trend in Hawaii and nationwide, whereby law enforcement officers assault those who are exercising their First Amendment rights to videotape law enforcement officers. You can read more about these incidents in our Amicus Brief, and you can learn more about your right to videotape law enforcement in our First Amendment Toolkit. If you have experienced threats or intimidation as a result of documenting law enforcement encounters in Hawaii, please contact us.