Jimmy Justice is one of those guys who doesn’t have to be told he has the right to videotape police in the line of duty.

For two years, the New York City resident has been doing just that; videotaping traffic cops who are violating the law as they are enforcing the law. He brazenly confronts them on camera, demanding to know why they are parked illegally.

Then he posts the videos on Youtube where he has become an internet icon or as MSNBC called him, a “video vigilante.”

But now he says that Youtube is clamping down on his videos, using a lame excuse to remove the last one he posted. This has kept him from posting more videos.

“They claimed it violated community standards, but I do not feel there was anything offensive about it,” he stated in an email to Photography is Not a Crime over the weekend.

“There are other videos I have posted on Youtube that have foul language and Youtube does not seem to have a problem with that.”

The video in question, which is posted above (on Vimeo after I recommended it to him), is hardly offensive if you’re going by Youtube standards. By Jimmy Justice standards, it is actually mild compared to some of his previous, more confrontational videos with police, including one where he berates an officer for parking in front of a fire hydrant in order to buy lunch as a fire fighters respond to a fire outside.

In typical Jimmy Justice style, he pulls up to a female NYPD cop who is double-parked and asks her why she is parked that way. She denies it, but it is clearly evident from the video she is double-parked.

She then justifies it by telling Jimmy Justice that the officer standing on the other side of the car “is on duty” – as if that would make a difference. Jimmy Justice responds by telling the bewildered officer:

“Duty is a brown substance which comes from an anus.”

His response might be a bit sophomoric but is it offensive enough to warrant removal of the video from Youtube?

“There seems to be nobody at Youtube that can tell me exactly what was offensive in my video that they removed without warning,” he said. “Many people now feel that Youtube in censoring free speech.”

The debate on whether Youtube is censoring free speech has been around since 2006 when it removed a video by right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin. According to The New York Times:

YouTube users can flag any video as containing pornography, mature content or graphic violence, depicting illegal acts or being racially or ethnically offensive. A video is removed — as Ms. Malkin’s was on Sept. 28 — only if a review by the company’s customer support department agrees that it is inappropriate, or that the video is on its face in violation of the site’s terms of use.

But the incident raised some questions about the fine line YouTube’s administrators walk when they decide to respond to users’ complaints about contributions to the site — a mechanism that is fraught with the potential for vindictive shenanigans.

It doesn’t appear that Jimmy Justice’s video was either pornographic, violent or racially or ethnically offensive. So maybe they received complaints from the New York City Police Department.

The debate over censored videos intensified after Youtube was purchased by Google for $1.65 billion in October 2006. Just last week, a website called Stop the ACLU ironically accused Youtube of censorship.

Facebook has also been accused of censorship when it started removing photos of mothers breastfeeding babies, proving that the more conglomerated and powerful a company becomes, the less flexible they will be with their customers.

Perhaps Justice Jimmy will start posting all his videos of Vimeo, which doesn’t have the reputation of censoring but is not nearly as popular as Youtube (although I prefer it because it allows you upload high-resolution videos).

Since this article was posted, Photography is Not a Crime reader Martin sent in a link outlining his own experiencing with Youtube censorship where they claimed it violated “community standards.” He has since posted the video on Vimeo. This is what Martin said:

Regarding your article about youtube censorship, it appears they dont like anyone posting videos of cops.

They pulled this video of mine and put one ‘strike’ on my account for it.

The video in question was titled “Fat Bottomed Big Gulp girls of Homeland Security” and is an extremely short video where he follows two uniformed females Homeland Security guards around LAX drinking Big Gulps.

Oh, the horror.


I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar. And feel free to join my Facebook blog network to keep updated on the latest articles.