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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.

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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.

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Expression of Opinion on Police Deaths and Police Brutality Leads to House Search; Arrest

The following content was shared with the CopBlock Network by Katelyn Rothwell, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

In the post Katelyn details how their house was searched and her boyfriend Steven was arrested by police in Maryland after he made a phone call to the Dallas Police Department expressing his opinion that the recent shooting of police in Dallas was a reaction to the behavior of police toward citizens.

Apparently, the Dallas police then contacted the Maryland State Police and claimed he had made threats against them based on his statements that incidents of police brutality and outright killings by police may have motivated the shootings against the police. Regardless of the popularity of such opinions or who it is those opinions are expressed to, it’s pretty clearly a matter of free speech and protected under the First Amendment.

Note: This is a good time for a reminder to always film the police. Filming the Maryland police conducting a search and arresting someone based on the non-crime of using their free speech rights is important. Even beyond that, had Steven recorded what he said during the original phone call, he would have pretty solid evidence of whether he made threats or not.

(By the way, GoFundMe doesn’t allow crowdfunding for legal expenses. If you need to do so, you should use FundRazr instead.)

Date of Incident: July 15, 2016
Department(s) Involved: Maryland State Police, Dallas Police Dept.

My boyfriend Steven and I live in Maryland, he follows CopBlock on Facebook all of the time. He called the Dallas Police Department yesterday (July 14th) trying to get them to realize that the shit they are doing (killing unarmed citizens, etc.) is the reason for the murders of cops that have happened in Dallas and everywhere else around the country.

People are tired of police brutality and people are lashing back because of it. He wasn’t saying that it was right or threatening them or anything like that. He didn’t even block his phone number, because he was only using the First Amendment, freedom of speech. He did nothing wrong.

Today, we got a knock at the door at our apartment and six Maryland State Troopers were at the door. They wanted to know why he called them and they stated that he was threatening the police officers over the phone with death threats. Steven told them it was not like that. He explained that he was only speaking his mind to them, saying that it will keep happening if that shit continues. He maybe could have worded it better or went about it differently when he called them, but he never made death threats or anything like that.

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They searched our apartment, which was a waste of time, and took his phone, then left. However, they came back about an hour later. They said they had spoken to their higher ups and decided to take it through circuit court and charge him with threatening a police officer over the phone. He is now sitting in jail waiting to speak to the commissioner on Monday.

I was pretty mad when he told me he called them, but that is still not something to get arrested for. I believe this is wrong and I think I am going to start a GoFundMe account to raise money for his bail when we get it Monday. Apparently, our First Amendment rights are being taken from us and our government is falling apart. This is absolutely ridiculous.

Please help us any way you can.

– Katelyn Rothwell

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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Police Sergeant Claims Badges DO Grant Extra Rights!

This video was shared with the CopBlock Network by Tyler Wayne, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. It shows Tyler’s conversation with a Myrtle Beach police officer named Sgt. Richardson. on the surface of it, there’s nothing particularly outrageous about this video. The Sergeant is somewhat insulting toward Tyler at times and arrogant, but for the most part he maintains a fairly polite manner and doesn’t threaten him physically.

However, there are several interesting aspects to the conversation contained within the video. In short, Sgt. Richardson very clearly feels that badges should grant extra rights. The initial question about the parking is really more of a matter of principle than a huge rights violation or act of corruption. Why should police be able to just arbitrarily park wherever they want when they would want to engage in some Revenue Generation if they saw you do the same thing? Plus, his excuse for needing to do so was pretty shallow.

According to Richardson, if he had to arrest someone it would be unreasonable for him to have to “parade” someone through the parking lot. The problem with that is you can rather clearly see that if he parked in the front section of the parking area it would simply be a matter of crossing the street. That would maybe constitute an extra twenty feet and that’s being generous in the estimate.

Also something the sergeant mentions within that conversation is that he is working under a contract for the movie theater and is only “hired” there on weekends. So, in other words, he’s been hired through the department to perform private security for that business. That brings into question whether he’s even really on duty at the time. Regardless of whether he’s on the clock for the city or moonlighting, he’s working for a private company and not performing official police duties.

Screenshot_2016-06-05-12-11-17Beyond that, the legal exception for parking in fire zones for emergency vehicles is in fact usually restricted to during a response to an actual emergency. Furthermore, it’s not a question of whether those with badges wrote on a piece of paper that they get to have extra rights that is in question. It’s ironic the sergeant would accuse someone else of not respecting the law while he completely disregards it. The question is whether they should be afforded those extra rights.

It’s rather obvious that Sgt. Richardson believes they do. That’s evidenced not just by the parking issue, but by his reference to the fact that South Carolina does not allow the open carrying of pistols. At one point in the video, he references that he is allowed to wear a holstered pistol openly as one of those extra rights his employment affords him. And he seems rather proud of the fact that the Second Amendment right to bear arms has been restricted by the state for people not employed as cops.

Previously, Tyler submitted a video of himself being detained by a Darlington County Sheriff’s Deputy to the CopBlock Network in March of this year.

Date of Incident: June 4, 2016
Officer involved: Sergeant Richardson Badge #D27
Department Involved: Myrtle Beach (SC) Police Department
Complaint No.: Office of Professional Standards – (843) 918-1330/(843) 918-1382
Sheriff Philip L. Thompson: (843) 915-5450
Facebook Page: Myrtle Beach Police
Address: Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center, 1101 North Oak Street, Myrtle Beach, SC, 29578

I was visiting the mall in Myrtle Beach (Horry County) with my girlfriend. When we left I noticed a police officer parked in a “no parking zone”. I decided to record a short video for Instagram. After recording the first clip, I stood by the vehicle hoping the officer would come out so I could ask for his name and badge number.

He came out quickly with his business card ready. We then had a discussion, if you will, about parking laws, open carry, and unmarked police vehicles.

At one point I asked if he believed that badges granted extra rights and he responded with “when I’m on duty, yes”.

– Tyler Wayne

Incidentally, if you want to support Tyler’s future efforts to film the police in the Myrtle Beach area, you can do so by donating to the Citizens for Police Accountability GoFundMe page.

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Jails and the “Justice” System Punish the Poor For Being Poor

This post was written by and originally published at the Center For a Stateless Society (C4SS) under the title “Prisons Don’t Bail Out the Poor.” Posts and other content can be submitted to the CopBlock Network via the CopBlock.org Submission Page. (Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made. Some links were added within the text.)

This post relates to the exploitation of the poor and vulnerable members of society by law enforcement and the court system. Oftentimes, people of lower economic classes and especially minorities within that demographic end up in jail and/or prison simply because they don’t have the means to defend themselves from allegations made against them. This also makes it that much more likely innocent people will accept plea deals just to avoid serving more jail time while awaiting trial and/or to avoid the risk of more severe punishment should they lose.

A significant percentage of those “crimes” they are prosecuted for are victimless crimes in the first place and many are actually predicated on conditions created by poverty. In addition, minor crimes of that nature often lead to more harsh punishments for future transgressions by creating a long criminal record that is used to justify tougher sentences, even though that record consists of things more affluent people would never be arrested or prosecuted for. In many cases, building a criminal record based on such minor offenses is an intentional strategy used by law enforcement against the poor for that very reason.

Previous posts by Nick Ford that have been shared on CopBlock.org can be found here, here, here, and here. If you appreciate the things Nick has written, you can support him directly here.

Prisons Don’t Bail Out the Poor

The New York Times recently reported that on March 13th, Jeffery Pendleton was found dead in his jail cell. Pendleton was a homeless man who lived in New Hampshire and had been arrested on March 8th for outstanding fines and possession of small amounts of marijuana. His set bail of $100 was prohibitively costly for him and he was left to languish in his cell until trial, over a month later.

According to New Hampshire’s state experts, there were no sign of foul play.

Pendleton’s family disagrees, saying on a GoFundMe campaign that aims to bring Pendleton’s body home: “His body has been viewed by a second source and we have found that we were lied to by the medical examiner in New Hampshire as well as the jail. … The second report completed in Arkansas states there are clear indications that Jeffery was harmed prior to his death and likely that harmed caused his death.”

Pendleton’s death, whether a freak accident or something more, reflects a disturbing trend of individuals, particularly lower-income and people of color, dying in jail cells. Another high-profile victim, a black woman named Sandra Bland, died after only three days in jail in 2013. Her death was ruled a suicide but her family, like Pendleton’s, disagreed.

Prison Profits Poor PeopleIn practice, jails tend to work as places where lower-income people must be processed and held until they can be processed again. As Gilles Bissonnette, a director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire said of Pendleton’s case, “at that point, he would have effectively served his sentence before he ever had an opportunity to contest the charge — an outcome that only a poor person would be confronted with.”

The issue of prohibitively high bail is serious enough that the Department of Justice (DoJ) released an official statement around the time of Pendleton’s death. Such statements don’t have the force of law, but they can influence shifts in policy by making the federal government’s position clear on a given issue.

At one point the statement says “[b]ail that is set without regard to defendants’ financial capacity can result in the incarceration of individuals not because they pose a threat to public safety or a flight risk, but rather because they cannot afford the assigned bail amount.”

As such, jails are often used as pre-detention centers that skirt around Constitutional requirements of “fair and equal treatment” under the law. If poor people are regularly locked up and have bail set without regard to their ability to pay then equality under the law seems like an unlikely outcome.

But even if we tried to make bail set partly on the basis of financial stability and well-being, this would not be enough. Whether it comes to police and civil forfeiture, the criminal justice system and plea deals, or the prison industrial complex, the state’s profit motive leads them to seek monopoly profits to the disadvantage of the accused and convicted.

As the New York Times notes, this report by the DoJ, “…echoes the conclusions of the Justice Department’s investigation of the Police Department and court in Ferguson, Mo. Investigators there concluded that the court was a moneymaking venture, not an independent branch of government.”

But “independence” is a meaningless term when the government has created and reinforced perverse incentives that treat individuals as a stream of revenue. Fixing that isn’t going to be accomplished by sending letters to courts and politely asking them to change. In fact, the way to affect change isn’t to ask nicely for the government to play by its own rules. We’ve been doing that for too long to no avail.

It’s time we made up our own rules and played by them ourselves in peaceful and creative ways. This means building alternative forms of dealing with crime that don’t rely on punishment being the focus of rehabilitation. It also means not treating money as the sole way that people can help atone for their offenses.

But of course, Pendleton didn’t do anything wrong.

Well, besides being poor.

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Stamford Connecticut Police Open GoFundMe Campaign to Buy a Bearcat

In Stamford they’re a little jealous of the other Connecticut cities that have the latest fancy new military vehicles. According to the Stamford Police Foundation their city is the fourth largest in Connecticut and all three of the larger cities each have two BearCats. However, for some reason Stamford hasn’t been able to acquire even one of the paramilitary assault vehicles via the typical taxpayer funded methods.

So now the Stamford Police Department, by way of the Stamford Police Foundation, wants to appeal to a nation of Cop Suckers to buy them that $200,000 death machine. Stamford is one of the safest cities in the country (and the safest city in Connecticut “by a wide margin,” according to FBI statistics) with a consistent decline in crime rates over the past several decades. In fact in all of 2013 they had one single murder take place in Stamford. (That might be a hint as to why they haven’t been able to convince Uncle Sucker to buy them that Militarized Police Tank yet.)

In spite of that actual reality, the Stamford police states that a BearCat is a vital tool it needs to combat the imaginary increase in the frequency and severity of critical incidents that they are pretending is happening. Like other tiny, low population cities with minuscule crime rates (such as Keene, New Hampshire) it’s obviously pretty essential that they get one of these “rescue vehicles” that they can stand on to pull kitties out of trees.

Militarized PoliceAnd to be fair, it’s embarrassing for them to show up to one of those joint department training thingies all dressed up like John Wayne heading to a beach on Iwo Jima, but driving a regular old patrol car. It just doesn’t give the full effect that today’s militarized police forces are looking to project to the communities they have committed to terrorizing and oppressing. Rumors (that I started) have even claimed that they have been forced to have Chief Fontneau drop them off a block away and walk to avoid being laughed at by all the other Stormtroopers with their fancy armored clown cars.

Unfortunately, they’ve only raised around $24,000 in the two months since they started their online bake sale and 20k of that actually was funneled into the donations through the Stamford Police Foundation itself. So they’re actually pretty lacking in people willing to fund their own oppression. That’s a damn shame.

Of course, they’ve got that $600,000 grant they received last year to buy body cameras, which they haven’t actually done, burning a hole in their pocket. So there’s always hope that they can drum up some more petty cash off the backs of taxpayers for stuff they don’t actually need. (Obviously they’ll get much more use out of a BearCat than they will body cameras, though.)

Then there’s always the Road Pirate option for revenue generation, too. Hope springs eternal.

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Assaulted by Tucson Police Serving an Order of Protection

The video above and the following post were sent to us, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page, by Anthony Potter. Anthony is a local activist from Tucson, Arizona. Along with the description within the post, he states:

All cops involved have illegally arrested me before , with no convictions because they were arrests over my free speech activism. Each officer, along with their union reps, mentioned and shown in the film are named in all of my federal lawsuits, which are identified in the picture.

In addition, on the Youtube description for the video the person who uploaded it states:

Tucson Police violently detaining a local activist to serve an order of protection from Paul Cunningham. Tucson City council has been trying to purge the homeless. When you speak out against it, apparently they send out their thugs.

Date of Incident: December 23, 2015
Officers Involved: Ofc. Hawkins, Ofc. Hugar, SGT Alice, SGT Grizzley, LT Dogget
Department Involved: The Tucson Police Department
Contact Number: 520-791-5032

I was walking from home to volunteer at the 420 Social Club in Tucson. Around 10 am, I was approached on two sides by Officers Hawkins and Hugar, saying I was detained. They grabbed my arms and then placed me in cuffs. I asked them what I was being detained for and also asked them what they are investigating. They told me they would let me know when it comes (sic). I asked them again and challenged their right to hold me.

noviticimI asked for Internal Affairs, the force commander, and their supervisor. I also told the officers that I do not consent to being touched, that I don’t consent to being detained without cause, and I told them that this is harassment. They responded that they could not contact Internal Affairs, but the force commander arrived, as well as numerous supervisors.

They made attempts to knock me to the ground and also to trip me. I was detained over an hour. More officers arrived with an order of protection from a chief of staff for Paul Cunningham, a city council official. The court order was signed and dated after my detainment for a civil procedure. I was further assaulted and restrained afterwards. In addition, my coat was ripped from them shoving the order in my overcoat pocket.

– Anthony Potter

Note: Anthony is also attempting to raise money to offset the costs for two disabled veterans to acquire their medical marijuana cards and receive cannabis-based medication that they need badly due to the effects of injuries they suffered while in the military. Donations can be made via this GoFundMe account. The description included within that GoFundMe campaign states:

Lot of vets are needing help, they served, now they suffer.  Long lines and lots of pharmsucal drugs not helping the way they should. The cost to get a card, to do a safer healthier choice can be a little too much to afford for some of them. Their wallet shouldn’t be a barrier to this.

We are asking for your help to get medical marijuana cards for some of our soldiers.
#vetsmatter #getlegal #compassionrevolution

 

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“Dental Profiling” by Indiana State Trooper Caught on Tape

Accused of MethIn Tippecanoe County, Indiana a woman was repeatedly accused of being a meth addict by a police officer for no other reason than because she has bad teeth. Stephanie Foltz, who maintains that her teeth are bad because of calcium loss from two pregnancies, was stopped for speeding by Trooper Thomas Manning. Manning proceeded to ask her when she began doing meth.

He then questioned her about the state of her teeth. When Foltz explained that it was a result of childbirth, he responded that he didn’t believe her and that children don’t take calcium from your body “in that way” during pregnancy. Stephanie’s husband Matt recorded audio (embedded below) of the exchange, which he later posted to YouTube. Trooper Manning can also be heard later in that recording stating to Stephanie, “I’m not out here to try to getcha, okay. However, I do take it personally when people aren’t honest with me.”

While bad teeth are one of the symptoms of meth use, it’s something that would indicate heavy and long term abuse. None of the other common symptoms such as severe weight loss and visible skin damage are present. Beyond that, absent signs of someone being under the influence of a drug or probable cause they are in possession (without even getting into the validity of the “War on (Some) Drugs” in the first place), police officers have no business insisting that someone is lying about drug use or “taking it personally” that he decided they’re lying.

In the end, Stephanie was so upset by Trooper Manning’s accusations that she was unable to even drive home. Some of her friends have started a “GoFundMe” account to help collect donations to help her get proper dental care.

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13 WTHR Indianapolis

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