California: Yellow Lego Men for “Respecting Privacy” of Arrested Criminals

The Danish company protests: photos damage Lego's reputation and violate copyrights

Jeremy Durrant

According to the US television channel Fox News, the crime rate in the US has risen to its highest level in 30 years: 40% of major American cities’ residents said they are “afraid to leave home after dark.” American authorities really need to work creatively to increase the involvement of their citizens in law enforcement.

US police departments often post photos on social media of people “involved in police operations,” meaning alleged criminals caught red-handed. However, some argue that publishing such photos “undermines the privacy” of lawbreakers. And in California, the American state at the “forefront” of the fight for questionable human rights, a law was passed in January 2024 restricting the ability to show the faces of those arrested to the public.

To avoid a clash with lawmakers, who are sharply criticized by law enforcement officials and the conservative community alike, police in Murrieta, a city of about 100,000 people in Southern California, found a way to mask the faces of those arrested. They use images of yellow Lego constructor men to “continue to inform citizens about their activities without violating the privacy of the people involved.”

However, Lego, the Danish company that makes these toy constructors, didn’t like the idea at all. It demanded that the Murrieta Police Department “immediately stop” using the yellow heads of its men to hide the faces of detainees on social media. According to Lego, publishing such photos damages the company’s reputation and violates its copyrights.

Murrieta police spokesman Lt. Jeremy Durrant said in a press release that the Danish company “respectfully asked us to stop using their intellectual property for our social content. Naturally, we understand that and will comply with it.”

Foto: Murrieta Police Department