Austin police arrest activist Antonio Buehler after recording officers


Austin police early Sunday arrested and jailed Austin activist Antonio Buehler, who was accused of interfering with public duties after he recorded video of police downtown.

Police have not yet filed an affidavit outlining the details of Buehler’s arrest, but several videos were posted to YouTube on Sunday that show Buehler holding a phone close to a group of Austin police officers.

The video shows an officer talking to Buehler, then asking him to turn around. When he does, several officers get him to lie down on the ground and arrest him.

Another man was arrested with Buehler. He was identified by the activist website Photography Is Not a Crime as Mike Smith, a member of the watchdog group Film the Police Portland .

Buehler was booked into the Travis County Jail about 3 a.m. Sunday but not charged, Austin police said. Buehler was still in jail at press time Sunday.

Police have up to 24 hours to file an affidavit for a misdemeanor arrest, which this incident was, police spokeswoman Veneza Bremner said. Bremner said police would provide more information Monday.

“The police officer basically told him to move, but when Antonio did, apparently the officer wasn’t satisfied, so he was arrested,” said Buehler’s lawyer, Millie Thompson. “This was the same game that APD played in 2012.”

Buehler first gained attention on New Year’s Day in 2012, when he was arrested on a felony harassment charge and was accused of spitting in an Austin police officer’s face. Nearly three years after the arrest, Buehler was acquitted of the charge.

In 2013, Buehler sued the Austin Police Department over his filming of the officers while they conducted arrests. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in February, but Buehler is appealing the decision.

“In 2012, when Antonio founded the Peaceful Streets Project and they were actively videotaping police officers in public, the game APD created is they would tell Antonio — or someone else who was filming — to move. Whether they did or didn’t, they’d be arrested,” Thompson said.

Buehler and his group, the Peaceful Streets Project, have often used video recordings as a way to challenge the power of police and law enforcement officials and as a way to highlight the rights of civilians.

Earlier this year, Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman tried to get Buehler on the Public Safety Commission, but a majority of the council nixed that idea after the police union president objected to the nomination, saying Buehler has displayed “hatred” for police.

Last month, a disorderly conduct charge against Buehler in Gonzales County was dismissed. Buehler was charged two years ago when he uttered a profanity at a courtroom officer after a judge confiscated Buehler’s camera and demanded he delete the footage.


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