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Suit seeks to strike down law criminalizing bystanders who get within 25 feet of police

The side of a police car, with the words "Dial 911" and "Police" written across it.
FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
IPB News
A new state law criminalizes anyone who gets within 25 feet of an on-duty law enforcement officer after being told to stop.

The ACLU of Indiana is challenging a new state law that criminalizes anyone who gets within 25 feet of on-duty police after being told to stop.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a man who posts videos online of police activity.

Donald Nicodemus runs a YouTube channel called “Freedom 2 Film,” on which he posts videos of what he calls “news worthy activities” in and around South Bend, where he lives.

In a recent video, a police officer at a scene of a shooting walks off 25 feet and tells Nicodemus to stay behind it. A second officer then comes over and tells Nicodemus to back up a further 25 feet, citing the new state law, HEA 1186.

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The ACLU said the law violates the First Amendment by giving police “unchecked authority” to stop people from getting close enough to observe their actions, even if those people aren’t interfering with law enforcement.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.