The city of Los Angeles recently sought to block the distribution of photos and data of over 9,000 LAPD officers that journalist Ben Camacho acquired for an online database, “Watch the Watchers”. But the city’s request for a temporary restraining order has been denied by a judge.
The lawsuit against Camacho and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition was initiated after it was reported that the images were published online. However, Camacho alleges that the lawsuit was an attempt to suppress his First Amendment rights and curtail public access to public records.
Camacho had earlier filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the city. He argued that the state’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law was being violated. The law is intended to prevent people from using courts to intimidate those who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
Knock LA, a nonprofit community journalism project where Camacho works, was originally conceived by the grassroots community organizing group Ground Game LA. The case highlights the ongoing tension between law enforcement agencies and journalists seeking to hold them accountable.