U.S. Marshals Schooled on the First Amendment Right to Film Federal Property in Public
The following videos and description were shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously by a California based CopBlocker, who goes by the pseudonym of “California Guardian.” It was shared via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.
On the video, California Guardian can be seen filming outside the Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse, which is located in Santa Ana, CA. He is initially approached by a security guard. Soon after, two individuals who appear to be undercover police of some sort begin questioning him about what he is doing. Not long after that, a pair of U.S. Marshals arrive and also begin trying to demand his ID, while issuing threats about him getting arrested for filming on federal property.
California Guardian stands his ground, refuses to identify himself without them stating that is being detained (and providing a valid reason), and correctly informs them that the he has the right to film in public per the First Amendment and that this right has been upheld several times in court, including Federal Courts. Eventually, they are apparently informed that he is right and leave, walking back into the building.
The second video embedded below contains a follow up visit done by a group known as High Desert Community Watch, which shows that the guards now understand people are allowed to film in public. Instead of harassing the people filming, the security guard simply reports on his radio that there are some people who are “just filming.”
I know personally one of the questions I often get is some variation of why we “bother” the police by arguing with them over legal issues. These two videos present a great example of why that is and should be done. In the first video, someone not breaking any law or posing any threat is harassed and threatened by U.S. Marshals. In the second, someone is able to do so without that impediment to their rights. Also, in the first video (and oftentimes when members of NVCopBlock are out filming or doing actions) the people involved seem to genuinely not understand the law and appropriate constitutional rights. Making sure that they do in fact understand citizen’s rights and law enforcement’s responsibilities is something that not only eliminates future harassment, but potentially prevents something even worse from happening as a result of overzealous and uniformed public officials and/or security.
If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.
On Oct 25, California Guardian, a CopBlocker and First Amendment auditor from Southern California, was recording outside the Reagan Federal Building in Santa Anna, CA. when U.S. Marshals, after being contacted by a guard working for Paragon Security, attempted to infringe on California Guardian’s First Amendment rights to film in public demanded his identification and threatened him with arrest. California Guardian stood his ground and continued recording, refused to be intimidated or to provide I.D. even after the marshals threatened to have him arrested by the Federal Protection Police. Ultimately the Marshals did the shameful Walk of Dishonor.
A couple of days later, High Desert Community Watch, accompanied by Teen4Justice and CaliGirl, returned to Santa Ana and video recorded in the same location at the Reagan Federal Building where Paragon and court officers did not bother them.
These two occurrences are proof that what Copblockers and First Amendment Auditors do to defend our rights does in fact make a difference. The security guards and the marshals at that location learned a lesson and have changed, for now, their dishonorable and shameful breaking of their oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.
– California Guardian