A good-government group is calling on the New Jersey State Police to “come clean” and disclose if it has a practice of snapping pictures of protesters at public events.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey issued a statement Wednesday after a plainclothes individual who later identified himself as a member of the New Jersey State Police was spotted snapping pictures of protesters at a recent Gov. Chris Christie town hall event.
“It raises serious First Amendment concerns that the State Police may be photographing protesters at Gov. Christie’s town hall meetings,” said Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey.
“The State Police must come clean and explain to New Jerseyans whether it has a practice or policy of photographing people engaged in First Amendment protected speech,” he said. “New Jerseyans must be able to express their viewpoints without having to fear police officers photographing them and creating political dossiers on them.”
PolitickerNJ reported at Christie’s Tuesday South River town hall the plainclothes individual snapped pictures of the protesters as they stood up during the event and shouted at the governor.
A police spokesman, Capt. Stephen Jones, said Tuesday he could not confirm the individual at the Christie town hall was a member of the State Police.
“I’m unable to confirm whether [the person taking pictures] was anybody related to the state police,” Jones said.
At least a dozen protesters were led out of the South River event by police after disrupting the town hall with chants.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) responded to the report by demanding Christie “repudiate” the tactic she referred to as “a Nixonian.”
The governor’s office has referred security inquires to the State Police.