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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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First Amendment Audit: Military Police Officer Harasses Woman Legally Taking Pictures at Randolph Air Force Base, TX

Filming Randolph Air Force Base TX First Amendment Audit

During a “First Amendment Audit,” a woman legally taking pictures in public is harassed by Randolph Air Force Base Security Forces Officer A. Delarosa, who incorrectly tells her that it is illegal to do so outside the base and attempts to get her to identify herself.

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.

This video is an example of that (commonly referred to as an “audit fail” among those who do them), due to Randolph Air Force Base Security Forces Officer Delarosa’s repeated assertions that she can’t take any photos of the base unless she has permission from their public affairs department. He also asked for her name or if she has ID on her numerous times and at one point states that if she does continue taking photos he might steal her camera (AKA “confiscating” it – when done by government workers).

Although, Officer Delarosa does seem to be genuinely confused about the law and the civil rights issues involved, he’s wrong about pretty much everything. 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. And, of course, they can’t seize your camera 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, another reason is to make them understand that it is legal and deter them from harassing people filming in the future. This is a pretty good example of that, as Officer Delarosa is eventually told he is incorrect about her not being allowed to take photos from the public areas next to the road by the Universal City Police officers that he had called.

Date of Incident: April 10, 2017
Officer Involved: Officer Delarosa
Department(s) Involved: Randolph Air Base Military Police/Security Forces, Universal City Police Department

I went to visit Texas to do a First Amendment audit, which is basically taking pictures of government installations from public places.

One of the places I went to was Randolph Air Force Base in Universal City, Texas, which is a suburb of San Antonio. As soon as I started to snap pictures I was approached by Officer Delarosa, who said I could not take pictures and threatened to take my camera. He also lied about the property lines to me.

After realizing that where I was located was out of their jurisdiction, AKA not on the base, they had to call Universal City Police. The officers from Universal City came out and spoke with me briefly. They were very pleasant and respected my right to film in a public place. Officer Delarosa and his partner on the other hand learned a quick lesson on the First Amendment.

– Amanarchy

The woman in the video (AKA “It’s That Magic You Crave“) frequently posts First Amendment Audits and other videos to her Youtube channel: “Pink Camera Magic.” You can support her by making donations to her via GoFundMe. Also, although they are off camera and only heard briefly, two other auditors that live in San Antonio, who go by the pseudonyms “SAEXTAZYPREZ” and “Buc-G,” were there filming her from a distance.

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

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Missouri State Audits Show Potential Fraud by Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch

The following post was originally published on the website of Southeast Missouri CopBlock under the title “Did Sheriff Dean Finch Steal from the County?” It was shared with the CopBlock Network by Bryan Jeffers of SEMO Copblock, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

Did Sheriff Dean Finch Steal from the County?

The Missouri State Auditor has finished an audit on Wayne County, Missouri. This is the county’s second audit since 2013. Back in 2013, the county received an overall performance rating of poor. The newest audit was just released and the auditor reported that Wayne County once again received a poor rating.

Could this be the results of Dean Finch stealing from the county?

In the auditor’s report (which can be read here) Nicole Galloway, CPA, said:

“The county has received an overall performance rating of poor financial condition with serious concerns. The cash balance is low and does not take into account significant liabilities of the fund, including $471,846 due to the Special Road and Bridge Fund.

The prosecuting attorney frequently reduces charges filed on traffic tickets by requiring defendants to make a donation, ranging from $50 to $300, to the county’s Special Law Enforcement Fund as a condition of reducing the charges. Donations totaled approximately $44,500 for the year ending December 31, 2015. Written plea agreements signed by the defendant and the judge do not disclose the amount the defendant was required to donate to the Special Law Enforcement Fund.

Receipt slips are not issued immediately upon receipt of bad check fees and donations, checks and money orders are not restrictively endorsed promptly, and monies are not transmitted timely. The prosecuting attorney has not established adequate procedures to ensure 10-day letters are issued and charges are filed timely with the court for unresolved bad check complaints”

In 2013, the prosecuting attorney at the time, Robert Ramshur, told the Wayne County Journal-Banner:

“The auditor’s office said they could find no authority for the fund’s existence. Yet, since he said that, the County Commission has approved an ordinance validating the fund.” (For more click here)

So after the auditor found no authority for the fund the county quickly made the authority for it. Was the county trying to backpedal and cover for the extortion of traffic offenders by prosecuting attorney and the sheriff ‘s office back in 2013? The same practice of extorting traffic offenders still continues now with the authority of the county.

Sheriff Dean Finch maintains a bank account outside the county treasury according to the auditor’s 2016 report:

“This account has an unidentified balance,  to account for proceeds from the U.S. Department of Justice Equitable Sharing Program without statutory authority.”

Did Sheriff Dean Finch steal money from the bank account he did not have the authority to maintain?

The report states that the bank account Dean Finch maintains may be against the law:

“There is no statutory authority allowing the Sheriff to maintain this account outside the county treasury. Section 50.370, RSMO, requires every county official who receives any fees or other remuneration for official services to pay such monies to the county treasurer. In addition, Attorney General’s Opinion No. 45-1992 to the Hickory County Prosecuting Attorney, states sheriffs are not authorized to maintain a bank account for law enforcement purposes separate from the county treasury”

Should Dean Finch be charged convicted and jailed for this?

Nicole Galloway in her 2016 audit of Wayne County said:

“The Sheriff has not entered into written agreements with the City of Greenville or surrounding counties for the boarding of prisoners detailing the prisoner housing rate to be paid, the services to be provided, or any required notification for emergency or non-routine situations.”

This means, if you were arrested by the City of Greenville or any surrounding cities or counties and were housed by Wayne County, they had no formal plan for that city or county to pay Wayne County for your jail time. Nor did they have any plans for emergency or non-routine situations. Could this be the reason Darrell Antone Died in Wayne County custody in 2015? (read more on his death here)

The Sheriff leases his car to the county for $1 a year, but that is not the real concern. The concern is what the county paid him for mileage.

According to the report:

“The Sheriff is to be responsible for all maintenance, upkeep, and operating expenses. Although not specified in the lease agreement, the Sheriff was paid $0.56 per mile as compensation for leasing his vehicle to the county during the year ended December 31, 2015. Mileage reimbursements paid to the Sheriff during the year ended December 31, 2015, totaled $19,425. The Sheriff maintains mileage logs that include his badge number, the date, and the number of miles driven per day while patrolling the county.”

Assuming if this practice has been done the whole time he was Sheriff, this would mean in the current term he would have been paid a total of over $77,700 and in his two terms total of $155,400 for driving his personal vehicle. That is more than two times what the average citizen of Wayne County makes in a year.

It seems to me that Dean Finch is using his position of power to profit as much money from the county as he can. Why did Dean Finch use his position to steal an income of at least $155,400 in eight years of driving his personal car around?

In the report Nicole Galloway states:

“In addition to the mileage logs submitted to the County Clerk’s office for reimbursement, we noted the Sheriff’s badge number also appeared on the fuel logs used to track fuel obtained from the Sheriff’s Office bulk fuel tank during 2015. These logs indicate the Sheriff fueled his vehicle from the bulk fuel tank 68 times in 2015; totaling 791 gallons, in addition to claiming and receiving compensation of $19,425 for the miles driven.”

Below you will find a spreadsheet we made outlining how much we estimate he was paid by the county when you add the reimbursement and the free gas he filled his car with for over the 7 years he was double dipping taking into a low-ball average of $2.50/gallon.

Picture

Wayne County paid the sheriff over 1/2 million dollars in eight years. In those eight years, Finch was paid $155,400 over his salary. He was “gifted” with over $13,000 in free gas because the county paid twice for it.

In the report, it does, however, say:

“Beginning in 2016, the Sheriff began subtracting the cost of the fuel obtained from the bulk fuel tank from the mileage logs submitted to the County Clerk monthly. For example, in April 2016, the Sheriff was reimbursed $1,600 for 3,282 miles driven ($0.54 per mile for 2016) after deducting $172 for 97 gallons of fuel obtained from the county’s bulk fuel tank. The Sheriff calculated the amount to be deducted by multiplying the number of gallons pumped times the current price per gallon.”

This year is the 1st year Dean Finch decided to pay for the gas he is using. Will Dean Finch pay back the well over $13,000 he stole from double dipping?  Why is Dean Finch not in jail for stealing over $13,000 in gas?

The county has no accountability. In the 2015 audit report, it says:

“Neither the County Clerk nor the County Commission adequately reviews the financial activities of the County Collector. The County Clerk does not maintain an account book or other records summarizing property tax charges, transactions, and changes. The County Clerk and the County Commission do not perform procedures to verify the accuracy and completeness of the County Collector’s annual settlements. The County Clerk and County Commission do not adequately monitor additions and abatements entered into the property tax system.”

Wayne County citizens deserve better than Dean Finch.

Dean Finch, as Sheriff, cares more about loading his own pockets than protecting us and doing his job. According to the audit, he broke the law by managing a bank account he should never manage by law. He might of stole gas for seven years by the county paying for the gas in his car twice, once to him and once to the company the county gets the bulk gas from. He holds no accountability for the employees’ time sheets and overall is a horrible sheriff. Should Dean Finch be arrested? Did he steal over $13,000 in gas? Whats was up with the bank account he managed that he should never have had controll of?

– Bryan Jeffers

SEMO CopBlock

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Help Contribute to the Impact Nevada Cop Block Makes

Cop Block Store

One way to support Cop Block is to buy some cool merchandise from their store: http://www.copblock.org/store/

Obviously, if you’re visiting this site then there’s a good chance that you understand the importance of holding police and other government employees accountable for their actions. You’re probably also aware of the impact Cop Block and its (ever increasing number of) local affiliates have had on bringing such accountability and raising awareness of options people have available to them when they’ve been victimized by the police or to prevent it from happening.

If you would like to help support the good things that Cop Block does and allow us to do even more in the future, this post which was originally published on the national Cop Block site and the accompanying video, outlines numerous ways in which you can do so. This includes simple, one time donations, recurrent donations of varying denominations, as well as through the purchase of some very cool Cop Block related merchandise.

Cop Block Press Pass

Help yourself and NVCopBlock.org by buying an official Cop Block Press Pass: http://nvcopblock.org/presspass/

As outlined in the video below, any donations received will go toward creating resources for active affiliate groups, basic operational costs, and a short promotional tour, consisting of a month of training and outreach to people involved in or wanting to become involved in Cop Block related activities in various locations along a four-thousand mile route.

And, of course, you shouldn’t forget that if you also want to contribute directly to Nevada Cop Block, you can do so by ordering an official Cop Block Press Pass.

From the Original Post by Pete Eyre on CopBlock.org:

Creating primer resources for active groups, ensuring a couple key components are covered, and funding for a month-long mini-tour are the three areas outlined in the video (script below) that I think will be good investments to increase Cop Block’s impact.

Interested and able to help? Please visit: CopBlock.org/Donate

Any coin is much-appreciated, though reoccurring donations will help provide us with a bit more stability so we can budget accordingly.

Setting-up reoccurring donations is easy. When at CopBlock.org/Donate, simply input the amount you want to donate (in this example I used 10FRNs) and click the green “Donate” button.

wepay-donate-copblock

Then, on the next screen, select the frequency desired (in this example I choose “monthly”).

copblock-donate-wepay

If you want to help fund one of the specific areas outlined in the video, just click the text “Include a message with your payment” and in the text field box that then appears, type the associated term(s). 

In this example I keyed “key components.” If you identify more than one area, your donation will be split equally among them.

wepay-donate-copblock-earmark

All donations received without a comment noting a desired earmark will be used to fulfill the asks given in the video (resources for groups, key components, short tour). If donations above that amount are received, they’ll be used in other ways to advance Cop Block’s mission.

When I get a better idea of the coin raised for the short tour I’ll post my intended route and will work to connect with Copblockers.

Also, keep your eyes open for a new innovative component spearheaded by Ademo Freeman that is sure to draw much attention and involvement – hopefully from yourself:)banner - CopBlock Donate - PowerPost

Script from Video

If you watch the mainstream news or listen only to those who claim the right to control your life, it’s very likely that you have a pretty bleak outlook on the world today.
But recognize that such a reality – the belief that you yourself, can’t possibly hope to address those problems, as they’re so overwhelming – is the very paradigm being pushed by those attempting to usurp your rights.
Uncertainty and fear are peddled to gain your acquiescence.
Their very existence and the scope of their actions are directly contingent on the authority you grant them.
Fortunately many individuals are thinking for themselves.
They realize that though they’re rightfully disillusioned, there must be a better alternative.
If you’re watching this video, it’s likely you’re already familiar with Cop Block.
If not, I encourage you to check out Cop Block’s About page, but briefly, Cop Block is a decentralized project supported by a diverse group of individuals united by their shared goal of police accountability.
We do not hate cops. We believe that no one – not even those with badges – has extra rights.
We live by that fact and seek to share it with others. Both to safeguard our rights and those of future generations.
We choose to focus on police, because they are quite literally, the teeth, or enforcers of the State.
In fact, police claim a “right” to initiate force.
It is that institutionalized violence that is the issue.
Cop Block was founded three years ago this month.
In that time, the project has grown from a Tumblr site, to a group blog, to its current iteration, as a heavily-trafficked resource.
It’s clear we’re having an impact. But I know we can do more.
That’s the purpose of this video. To help get from here to there.
Over the next few minutes I’m going to share some thoughts and ask for your help, so that we can make more likely a reality where the institutionalized violence we see today is replaced by peaceful coexistence.
My hope is for us to so thoroughly change the conversation about policing, that the need for Cop Block becomes obsolete.
I brainstormed components and tactics we could add or grow, and I incorporated feedback received from Copblockers.
What is certain is that a handful of folks can’t do it all.
Key is decentralization and a consistent message.
I identified three areas that I consider low-hanging fruit, and that I think would offer a good return-on-investment, should you have the interest and ability to help defray costs
Firstly, resources for local groups
We house at CopBlock.org/Groups all known contact info for offshoots as well as allies.
This graphic shows the increased number of local groups, from the fall of 2012, until now.
How did this happened?
We’ve created content, such as the /startagroup document, to help lessen the hurdle for proactive Copblockers, who then plant a flag and connect with those in their area to make a difference on the ground.
We’ve created print-ready flyers to help make it easier to share ideas, made available through our store an inexpensive 200-piece literature pack, and make ourselves available to brainstorm and work together where it makes sense.
Just imagine how different – for the better – things will be when the simple act of making transparent the actions of aggressors becomes the norm.
I’m asking for your help to provide active Copblockers with resources, so that they can do more.
Your reoccurring donation, or one-time donation, earmarked for resources, will be used to have created primer resources, like know your rights documents and videos, and crowdsourceable resources, like print-ready flyers, graphics, a better smartphone app, and to provide literature to active groups.
I hope and think a goal of getting 100FRNs donated per month for resources is obtainable.
And if it the coin is there and it makes sense, one idea is to solicit proposals from groups on how they’d utilize it to have an impact in their area, then put the proposals to a vote on CopBlock.org and allow Copblockers to decide which group to award the coin. Think of it as an X-Prize of sorts for police accountablity.
Secondly, compensation for key components
Cop Block is decentralized. We solicit submissions from those who’ve experienced, witnessed, or have commentary about, police interactions.
There’s not a lack of such content.
Thus far we’ve received over 2,000 submissions.
The editing and scheduling of these submissions has for most of Cop Blocks existence, been done by a volunteer, or a group of volunteers.
But more-recently I started compensating another Copblocker, to the tune of 150FRNs a month, or about five bucks a day, to tackle this integral task.
Ideally, it’d be great if this cost could be covered by folks who appreciate the work, and who have deeper pockets than do I.
In addition to the editor, another vital component I hope to have better-funded is our IT, which is quite literally the backbone of our operations.
Specifically, the hosting that’s provided by Liberty Web Alliance.
Last year CopBlock.org was taken offline by repeated DoS attacks.
A small team of tech-savvy friends hardened the site, and moved it, as well as local cop block offshoots also based on WordPress, to a dedicated server.
That provided much stability.
Yet recent site-related issues have again necessitated the need to step-up our IT, and with that, comes costs, about 200FRNs a month.
So, for these two key components – editing and scheduling submissions, and IT – I’m hoping we can get reoccurring donations earmarked for key components, at 350FRNs per month.
Thirdly, funding for more in-person collaboration
The Internet has undoubtedly been instrumental for the sharing of ideas that now seem so basic
It’s facilitated connections that ignore arbitrary political boundaries and underscore that we’re not alone, which can only empower others to get involved.
And it’s allowed us to bypass completely those who historically have censored the free flow of information.
Yet not to be discounted is in-person communication, which is unparalleled in its qualitative impact.
Prior to focusing on Cop Block, I spent time criss-crossing the states in MARV, the Mobile Authority Resistance Vehicle, with Motorhome Diaries and Liberty on Tour.
Ademo Freeman, who founded Cop Block, was involved in both as well.
When on the road we created hundreds of videos and interacted with thousands of people – including some who’ve since founded Cop Block offshoots.
This past summer I raffled-off MARV and reinvested the coin into my current vehicle – a 1996 turbo diesel Tahoe.
In mid-January I plan to leave the ‘shire and roll to North Carolina to pick-up my motorcycle.
Instead of just rolling down and back, over a couple of days, I plan to, over the course of a month, meet with Copblockers from the eastern seaboard, Midwest and Rust Belt, especially those who have founded groups, so that we can brainstorm, share ideas, hit the streets, and generate content.
This past August when traveling to visit family and friends, I was able to get-together with the founders of Ohio Cop Block and Minnesota Cop Block.
It was clear that our interaction was of much value, to all involved.
I’m hoping you can help defray my fuel costs, to make this short jaunt more realistic.
This one-month jaunt I’m proposing, which will end in late February in Nashua, NH at Liberty Forum, where I’m slated to speak about Cop Block, will be a good way to prove the effectiveness of this outreach tactic on a smaller scale, and make more realistic a future, longer tour, that could incorporate outreach at colleges, know your rights trainings, and Copblocking.
Coin donated and earmarked for “Tour” will be used to help make this possible.
Fuel costs, which I estimate will be about a grand, will be my biggest expense. Any additional monies received will be used to provide resources to Copblockers met.
So to summarize, if you find any of these three areas compelling – groups, key components, or a short tour – and can help make them happen, that’d be much appreciated.
Any other donations made to Cop Block will be used to do outreach to current law enforcement employees, to compensate Copblockers for creating graphics, for video contests, and much more.
CopBlock uses WePay and Bitcoin.
Thanks for your time. And if you’re not able to donate coin, it’s all good – we appreciate link love and even better, learning of your own peaceful, proactive efforts to cause those around you to think.
Remember, decentralizing is key, feel free to implement any ideas you have.
All content or graphics you see generated by Cop Block are free for you to use or modify.
And I’m always down to brainstorm – just shoot me an email at [email protected]

 

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