Tag Archives: California Guardian

First Amendment Audit: Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt John Toledano Unlawfully Detains Videographers Filming in Public

California Guardian High Desert Community Watch First Amendment Audit Illegal Detention

Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Toledano handcuffed and illegally detained “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch” during a First Amendment Audit by order of the FBI for legally filming in public.

Note: The video and description included within this post were shared with Nevada Cop Block via an anonymous reader submission. If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

As is mentioned in the description, this video shows what is known as a “First Amendment Audit.” That consists of going out and filming government buildings and other public property. Oftentimes, the police, security guards, government employees, and even members of the public don’t understand that the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to take photos and/or record video of anything that is within view of a public place.

Obviously, this video is very much an example of that (commonly referred to as an “audit fail” among those who do them). After initially confronting them and asking for ID, Sgt. Toledano (along with two other unidentified officers) handcuffed the two men who go by the pseudonyms “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch” publicly.

Both of them were then forced to sit in the back of a police vehicle and threatened with trespassing citations, although they never at any time entered private property. According to what Sgt. Toledago states on the video, this illegal detention was at ordered by the FBI. Eventually, they were both released without any charges.

As already stated, you obviously can legally film in public. Also, you are not required to identify yourself unless a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you have committed, are in the process of committing, or are about to commit a crime (the requirement to be legally detained). And legally they can’t seize your camera (or any other personal property) unless they have actually arrested you or obtained a warrant or subpoena for specific content on it.

One of the main reasons for doing First Amendment Audits is to test whether the police or security officers understand the law regarding filming in public spaces. Also, part of that reasoning is making them understand that it is legal and thereby deter them from harassing people filming in the future.

Date of Incident: April 11, 2017
Officer Involved: Sgt. John Toledano
Department Involved: Imperial County (CA) Sheriff’s Office
Facebook Page:
Imperial County Sheriff’s Office
Twitter Account:

Instagram Account:
Imperial County Sheriff
Department Phone No.:
(442) 265-2005
Department Email: Sheriff Raymond Loera

Adam (California Guardian) and Phillip (High Desert Community Watch) were down in Imperial County video recording when a Deputy Sheriff, Sgt Toledano, stopped them and unlawfully detained them on behalf of the FBI for the sole intent of identifying them with no suspicion that they had violated any crime.

Adam and Phillip were cuffed, placed in the back of a patrol vehicle and driven down around the corner to await the arrival of the FBI. Adam and Phillip never provided identification and were released after being given detention slips in the name of John Doe.

Both detention slips used Calif. Penal Code 647 (h) – “prowling” – as an excuse. Adam and Philip never entered any private property and remained on the public right of way (sidewalk) during their recording.

The men in the video frequently post First Amendment Audits and other videos to their Youtube channels: “California Guardian” and “High Desert Community Watch.” You can support them by making donations via GoFundMe: California Guardian and High Desert Community Watch News Network. Although they sometimes travel to other areas, as the psuedonyms they use indicate, these two auditors live in Southern California.

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

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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.

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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

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