Andrew J Henderson, who’s active with Minnesota CopBlock and has a number of police related videos on his YouTube channel – The Drewks, is no stranger to filming the police. In January 2014 Pete covered Andrew’s trial for “legally filming police” and again when he was found not guilty in February 2014. Today, Andrew messaged me stating:
On Monday, May 18th, various local law enforcement agencies conducted a seat belt enforcement detail in Saint Paul where officers stood on 2 street corners and looked for drivers not wearing their seat belts. When spotted, they would radio to their coworkers and colleagues to pull them over and issue them citations. In a 4-hour period they made 227 traffic stops and issued 244 citations, totaling more than $15,000 in fines. As I have seen many officers drive without seat belts, I found this to be a double standard and an unethical means of revenue generation.
On Friday, May 22nd, I decided to stand on a street corner outside of the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center with a camera to document officer seat belt use. This is the composition I captured that day.
What an excellent video, from the very beginning Andrew is in prime form when he interacts with McNeil (780) and his partner in the white SUV, not only does he provide them with a CopBlock.org card (that he modified from the graphics page) but he totally shuts down the “are you going to harm the police station” line of questioning while not providing them with any information about his activities. Even the second officer, who seems to have a good relationship with Andrew, is another great example of how most CopBlockers don’t hate police (see this story about Texas CopBlockers working with Police to save a life).
It isn’t until the third interaction that Andrew is required to go into full CopBlock mode and when he does he doesn’t miss a beat. He asks the right questions like, “am I being detained right now” and “is that a lawful order?” While the officer continues his questions Andrew continues to answer them, yet, without actually providing much information to the police. This is pro level CopBlocking and is probably best done by folks who’ve filmed/interacted with police often. The other pro tip Andrew highlights here is the double camera angle which is not only good for malfunctions with gear but in this case where one device has a better view than another. This really rounds off the video and provides another layer of transparency.
On top of giving a great 101 on how to interact with police, Andrew also provides some video proof of the double standard within police. While they ticketed hundreds of motorist for failure to wear a seatbelt many officers are seen in this video not wearing theirs. Seat belt laws are one of the best examples of a victimless crime, because if a person CHOOSES to NOT wear their seat belt who could they possible harm, other than themselves? If you’re not free to make bad choices than how free are you?
Also, you’ll notice in the video that the last cop that approached and harassed Andrew about filming claims that he is on private property. As Andrew pointed out even before he started filming in the video, he is standing on a public sidewalk. As the name implies, public sidewalks are not private property, but in fact are public property. You can click the photo on the left to see where Andrew was standing from four different angles. The sidewalk he is standing on is pretty clearly not private property. This itself is an example of how the police often don’t know (or pretend not to) the very laws they are attempting to enforce. In this instance, the officer actually threatens to arrest Andrew for trespassing on private property, while he is obviously standing on public property.