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Mount Vernon City Council backtracks on decision to restrict video, audio recording in City Hall

The clerk who requested the vote says the city needs to limit where and when people can record sound and video because freelance, citizen First Amendment auditors come to government buildings, record their interactions, and disrupt business.

News 12 Staff

Feb 5, 2023, 4:54 PM

Updated 498 days ago

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The Mount Vernon City Council is now backtracking on its decision to restrict video and audio recording in City Hall after pushback from residents saying the law violates the First Amendment.
The Council voted 6-0 to restrict recording just about anywhere in City Hall unless there is a public meeting there. Within days, the Council put out a statement saying they're reconsidering that law.
The city clerk who requested the vote says the city needs to limit where and when people can record sound and video because freelance, citizen First Amendment auditors come to government buildings, record their interactions, and disrupt business.
The law, which is not going to be enforced after the Council's reversal, would have banned recording in the hallways, the council chambers and the rotunda.
News 12’s Ben Nandy spoke with spoke with NYCLU Staff Attorney Daniel Lambright, who called the decision to restrict video and audio recording “a reach a little too far.”
The Council says they're going to rework the law to strike a better balance between employee safety and free-speech rights. The First Amendment auditor named David Miranda, a YouTuber, spoke with News 12 about his work to educate the public and government employees. 
Miranda visits public buildings almost every day, recording on his cellphone, to test government workers' knowledge of the law. 
Staffers in videos are clearly uncomfortable with him filming and requesting documents. 
"I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, but I do understand you may feel uncomfortable. But if you can get somebody who can help me, that would be great,” he said in one video. “That's the proper way to do things. Not, 'don't record me!' and get nasty while dealing with the public."


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