August 9, 2016

Statement in Support of #RightToRecord

Alton Sterling's aunt Veda Washington, Chris LeDay, and Abdullah Muflahi, in front of a memorial to Sterling.

In an open letter to the documentary community published today at The Talkhouse, filmmaker David Felix Sutcliffe describes a disturbing pattern of citizen journalists - those who document police killings of black and brown civilians - being targeted and arrested by law enforcement in response to their reporting. Most recently the pattern includes Diamond Reynolds who livestreamed the aftermath of Philando Castile's shooting, Abdullah Muflahi who documented Alton Sterling's shooting, and Chris LeDay who uploaded a video of the shooting. Other targets of arrest - and harassment - include Kevin Moore, who filmed Baltimore police dragging Freddie Gray into the back of a van, as well as Ramsey Orta, who documented a Staten Island officer asphyxiating Eric Garner.

Reynolds and Muflahi were arrested immediately and LeDay was arrested 26 hours later by a dozen armed officers. Orta was arrested the day after a medical examiner ruled Eric Garner's death a homicide, and Moore was arrested the evening before a medical examiner's ruling of death by homicide were made public, and charges against six Baltimore police officers were announced.

In response, the International Documentary Association has issued the following statement, asking the Department of Justice to investigate and for our peers in the journalistic community to contribute additional reporting. The statement has been signed by some of our community's most-respected filmmakers. We ask all community members to read the letter, and to add your support by signing.


"We, the documentary community, call upon the Department of Justice to investigate a troubling pattern of abuse of power: the pervasive harassment of citizens who use cameras and social media to document and distribute footage of law enforcement. Whether they identify as citizen journalists, activists, or civilians, it is vital we defend the rights of these individuals to use video as a means of criticizing unjust police activity. We ask for a full investigation into any and all actions taken against them by police departments, and the larger pattern of abuse that has emerged on a federal, state, and local level, and the threat it poses to free speech and a free press.

We also call upon our peers in the journalistic community to investigate and report on these abuses. Chris LeDay, Abdullah Muflahi, Diamond Reynolds, Kevin Moore and Ramsey Orta are just a few of the names of the individuals who have used personal cameras and social media to shine a light on police brutality. By investigating other instances of police violence captured on video by citizens, and what consequences they may have faced, we can expand our awareness of the problem and take stock of the damages."

We invite all individuals to sign and show their support, whether they are filmmakers or concerned citizens.

Click here to sign the statement

(* Academy Award winner / ** Academy Award nominee)

David Felix Sutcliffe - (T)ERROR

Simon Kilmurry - International Documentary Association

Laura Poitras - Citizenfour *

Matthew Heineman - Cartel Land **

Marshall Curry - Street Fight **

Ross Kauffman - Born Into Brothels *

James Marsh - Man on Wire *

Simon Chinn - Searching for Sugar Man *

Morgan Neville - 20 Feet From Stardom *

Nick Broomfield - Tales of the Grim Sleeper

Shola Lynch - Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed

Bernardo Ruiz - Reportero

Jehane Noujaim - The Square **

Gordon Quinn - Hoop Dreams

Amy Berg - Deliver Us From Evil ** 

Kirby Dick - The Invisible War **

Amy Ziering - The Invisible War **

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy - Saving Face *

Alex Gibney - Taxi to the Dark Side *

Joe Berlinger - Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory *

Stanley Nelson - Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution

Liz Garbus - What Happened, Miss Simone? **

Lucy Walker - Waste Land **

Ryan Scafuro

Michael Katell

James Demo

Dawn Mikkelson

Jonathan Josell

Daniel Clarkson Fisher

Brian Knappenberger

Jerry Rothwell

Senain Kheshgi

Kori Feener

Sheila Dianne Jackson

Stacy Strazis

Fiona Otway

Andrew James

Bryan Glick

Astra Taylor

Andrew Kaiser

Lyn Goldfarb

Patricia Benabe

Luis Arruda

Sara Rezvi

Stephen Maing

Luke W Moody

Isaac Brown

Akiva Gottlieb

Andy Stepanian

Johanna Hamilton

Brent E. Huffman

Kate Larkindale

Anthony DiFlavio

Rick Prelinger

Rick Lipinski

N'Jeri Eaton

Holly Hardman

Brock Williams

Torene Svitil

Bao Nguyen

Banker White

Jon Blair

David Menschel

Valentina Canavesio

James Dolan

Mitch McCabe

Julia Bacha

Heidi Reinberg

Miriam Ryndova

Lisa Metcalf

Sharika Bivens

Vicky Funari

Elise McCave

Christine Turner

Ed Halter

Joanna Natasegara

Heather Courtney

Debora Kodish

Karrie Keyes

Rebbie Ratner

Lillian Isabella

Kevin Urgiles

Dara Messinger

Luke Meyer

Iyabo Boyd

Sherry Tauber

Adele Pham

Merete Mueller

Chloe Walters-Wallace

Jason Halprin

Matthew O'Neill

Wendy Cohen

Thomas Beard

Patty Clements

Garret Savage

Kimberly Bautista

Varun Bajaj

JT Takagi

Lana Garland

Amy Foote

Bernie Jbaines

Marjan Safinia

Jennifer MacArthur

Mariam Tateossian

Pablo Aravena

Michele Stephenson

Emily Colas

Cupertino Jay

George S. Scoville III

Carol Dudek

Isis A. Nelson

Nyjia July

Rose Vincelli Gustine

Nancy Gillard

Sonja Williams

Yvette Alberdingk Thijm

Lisa Hasko

Avi S. Adelman

Janelle Ryan

Jameka Autry

Carlos Ballantyne

Montricia Hubbard

Hanna Stawicki

Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Rick Baumhauer

Thomas Morgan

Angelica Das

Sanjay Rawal

Esther B. Robinson

Marina Zenovich

Riley O'Bryan

Melva Underbakke

Jennifer Maytorena Taylor

Leshu Torchin

Rachel Pikelny

Derek Boonstra

Kate Schramm

Sean Gallagher

Tim Durnin

Shannon Kelley

Kristie Alshaibi

Joey Spector

Elissa Kline

Nuhi de Stani

Dana Kalmey

Richard Hukill

Sharon Wood

CB Smith-Dahl

Darius Fisher

Deborah Kingsland

Darren Emerson

Kristin Tieche

Megan Mylan

Nathan Truesdell

Abdula Asanovski

Kevin Doyle

Roger Ross Williams - Music by Prudence *

Steve James - Hoop Dreams

Rachel Grady - Jesus Camp **

Asif Kapadia - Amy *

Louis Psihoyos - The Cove *

Barbara Kopple - Harlan County, USA *

Joshua Oppenheimer - The Look of Silence **

Eugene Jarecki - Why We Fight

John Battsek - Restrepo **

Lesley Chilcott - An Inconvenient Truth *

Dawn Porter - Gideon's Army

Anne Sundberg - The Trials of Darryl Hunt

RJ Cutler - The War Room **

Ondi Timoner - DIG!

Gary Hustwit - Helvetica

James Longley - Iraq in Fragments **

Yung Chang - Up the Yangtze

Nelson George - A Ballerina's Tale

Michael Tucker - Gunner Palace

Lois Vossen - Independent Lens

Justine Nagan - POV

Joana Vicente - IFP

Milton Talbot - IFP

Tabitha Jackson - Sundance Institute

Roger David Hardesty

Pietra Brettkelly

Charlotte Cook

Leah Mahan

Steve Braker

Assia Boundaoui

Malika Zouhali-Worrall

Jon Watts

Mark Kendall

Yoruba Richen

Mona Nicoara

Sara Archambault

Andrew Cohn

David Darg

Sergio Estrada

Dava Whisenant

Stephen Kijak

Daniel Cantagallo

Megan Kapler

Selina Morales

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Emily Hamilton

Ramona S. Diaz

David Holbrooke

Danny Yourd

David Osit

Palli Davis Holubar

Tracy Droz Tragos

Annie Lenihan

Erich Snow

David Riker

Alysa Nahmias

Montana McCloud

Marisa Berenbaum

Beth McNamara

Cecilia Aldarondo

Cori Shepherd Stern

Elizabeth Lo

Jacqueline Chan

Anthony Lappe

Kristi Jacobson

Marjorie Sturm

Sabaah Folayan

Amanda Lundbom

Wade Gardner

Matthew Brown

Laura Kim

Matthew Dagnery

Dave Merson Hess

Kevin Urgiles

Tom White

Claire Schriefer

Christopher St. John

Adam Bhala Lough

Catherine Ryan

Helene Zund

Theresa Navarro

Paul G. Lyzun

Jeremy Kaplan

Christie Marchese

Sabrina S. Gordon

Assia Boundaoui

Mary Garbesi

Jessica Chen

Nicole Tsien

Laurie Parker

Nicholas Martin

Brian McGinn

Angad Singh Bhalla

Alison Klayman

Sarah Briuer Bolland

Sean Tracy

Razelle Benally

Nikki Brake-Silla

Denae Peters

Barry Maxwell

Nayantara Roy

Darcy Heusel

Andrea Vieira

Dorothy Thigpen

Nancy Schwartzman

Elizabeth A. Castle

S Rader

Stephanie Shattuck

Snehan Kekre

Eva Miller

Judy Hoffman

Brit Hayford

Heidi Nel

Tia Lessin

Russell Meyers

John Bilderback

Natalie Avital

Samantha Sheldon

Liz Dill

Joseph Kidston

Cecilia Olivas

Amy Vandehei

Timothy Fryett

Greg Connolly

Sandra More

Eliana Alvarez

Jessica Devaney

Mary Scioneaux

Jean Tsien

Amy Grey

Gemeem Davis

Parthiban Shanmugam

Giovanna Chesler

Liz Kaufman

David O'Shields

Margaret Hedden

James Spione

Kristin Feeley

Cynthia Kane

Jennifer Galvin

Martha Shane

Melissa Rothenberger

Caron Atlas

Sandi DuBowski

Dawn Valadez

Jan Rofekamp

Joyce Deep

Sandra Tabares-Duque

Lorilyn Bailey

Kelly Fowler