On January 13, 2016, California activist Ricky Munday was detained, handcuffed, and searched in retaliation for telling an Los Angeles Police Department officer, that he was driving on the sidewalk, a clear violation of the law. Rather than explain how his magic suit and police vehicle permitted him to violate traffic regulations, the officer decides to harass Munday for allegedly smoking marijuana, which is permitted under the state’s medical marijuana law. The incident was captured on video and posted to his YouTube Channel.
Munday is eventually cited under California Health and Safety code section 11357(b), which states, “Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).” That “except as authorized by law” is important here since, as shown in the video, Munday has a legitimate medical marijuana card, which he even offered to present to the officer.
In addition, California’s medical marijuana law states under 11362.79:
Nothing in this article shall authorize a qualified patient or person with an identification card to engage in the smoking of medical marijuana under any of the following circumstances:
(a) In any place where smoking is prohibited by law.
(b) In or within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school, recreation center, or youth center, unless the medical use occurs within a residence.
(c) On a schoolbus.
(d) While in a motor vehicle that is being operated.
(e) While operating a boat.
That kind of sounds like smoking pot in public, with the above limitations, is perfectly legal under state law in California. But don’t take it from me. Here’s a lawyer writing in the OC Weekly:
“…you are free to smoke in any place that is not described above. Regarding your situation, while you are free to smoke in the side streets, why would you want to? Yes, you can lawfully smoke medical marijuana in public, assuming you are not within 1,000 ft. of a school, recreation center, or youth center. “
This law has been in effect since 2004. Has the LAPD somehow overlooked educating its police officers about the above for the past twelve years? Doubtful. More likely this is just a standard contempt of cop charge that the cop knows won’t hold up in court, but will nevertheless cause economic harm to the victim in the form of lost time and legal expenses incurred defending themselves.
In some ways, using these fraudulent contempt of cop charges is similar to the filing of fraudulent lien notices, a practice associated with sovereign citizens. From Wikipedia:
The New York Times reports that cases involving so-called sovereign citizens pose “a challenge to law enforcement officers and court officials” in connection with the filing of false notices of liens—a tactic sometimes called “paper terrorism.” Anyone can file a notice of lien against property such as real estate, vehicles, or other assets of another under the Uniform Commercial Code and other laws. In most states of the United States, the validity of liens is not investigated or inquired into at the time of filing. Notices of liens (whether legally valid or not) are a cloud on the title of the property and may affect the person’s credit rating. Notices of releases of liens generally must be filed before property may be transferred. The validity of a lien is determined by further legal procedures. Clearing up fraudulent notices of liens may be expensive and time consuming. Filing fraudulent notices of liens or documents is both a crime and a civil offense, a tort.
Munday appears to be fully aware of the applicable laws, and never says anything about being a “sovereign citizen,” so it’s bizarre that Police One would label his video as they have in the screenshot shown here. The labeling of Munday as a sovereign citizen and the subsequent comments on the Police One Facebook page illustrate the utter contempt police officers have for anyone who asserts their rights, how incredibly thin-skinned and prone to petty retaliation they are, and also their ever-growing paranoia and fear of their own shadows.
After numerous comments about how dangerous sovereign citizens supposedly are, one of the commenters finally offers a definition (which they appear to have taken from Wikipedia without citing it):
“The sovereign citizen movement is a loose grouping of American and Canadian litigants, commentators, tax protesters and financial-scheme promoters. Self-described sovereign citizens take the position that they are answerable only to their particular interpretation of the common law and are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state or municipal levels; that they do not recognize United States currency; and/or that they are “free of any legal constraints.” They especially reject most forms of taxation as illegitimate. Participants in the movement argue this concept in opposition to “federal citizens,” who, they say, have unknowingly forfeited their rights by accepting some aspect of federal law.”
One problem— Munday has a medical marijuana card, which is explicit proof that he feels he is subject to the legal constraints of the state. In addition, he even says, “I’m a law-abiding citizen,” at one point in the video. But somehow that translates into, “I’m a sovereign citizen, and none of your laws apply to me.” The truth is, cops are deliberately associating anyone who insists on pesky little things such as constitutional rights with sovereign citizens to 1. undermine any response that is not total submission to their authority, and 2. paint even peaceful resisters as unhinged terrorists, on the verge of killing any police officer they encounter, thereby justifying an escalating police response. Witness this Facebook exchange between a man whose profile states he is involved in law enforcement training and several cops/ cop apologists. Notice the apologists never provide any evidence that Munday is a sovereign citizen.
The cop/cop apologists keep using the sovereign citizen smear to justify the ridiculous number of cops that show up to deal with one peaceful, non-resisting person. And of course all of the other cops that show up (they swarmed like that because they smelled OT, not marijuana) also park on the sidewalk, blocking the path of the pedestrians who legally had the right of way. And that brings me to my last point. Who is it whose total disregard for the law (as it pertains to their own behavior) shows that they explicitly do not believe that laws apply to them? Who pleads in court that a specific legal concept (qualified immunity) removes them from financial culpability for their actions, while also abusing the legal system to harm innocent people? Which group is known to be extremely dangerous and unpredictable when encountered, causing over 1,000 deaths each year? Maybe cops just resent sovereign citizens for taking a page out of their own playbook.
Munday’s case was dismissed on May 4th when the citing officer didn’t even bother showing up in court.