Video cameras played a role both Freedom of Information awards from a Minnesota government watchdog group Wednesday. The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MnCOGI) honored The UpTake for its pioneering use of video and a Burnsville police chief for educating the public about body cameras.
The event at the Downtown Minneapolis Public Library began with a keynote speech by independent journalist Brandon Smith whose lawsuit against the city of Chicago led the Chicago Police Department to release dash cam footage of Laquan McDonald’s alleged shooting by a Chicago Police officer.
After that The UpTake was honored for its pioneering use of live-streamed video to open up democratic exercises to public scrutiny, notably the 2008 Republican National Convention and the Franken-Coleman recount with the 2016 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information (FOI) Award for career achievement.
MnCOGI also presented a John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information (FOI) Award for individual achievement to Chief Eric Gieseke of the Burnsville Police Department in recognition of his leadership in educating the general public, police officers and fellow police chiefs about the impact of Burnsville’s sustained use of police body cameras over the past 6 years.
Since 1989, the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award has been given to an array of journalists, legislators, citizen activists, librarians and others whose work in defense of the public’s right to know has made a difference in Minnesota.