Tag Archives: photography is not a crime

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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Dallas Transit Cop Committed Perjury to Justify Arresting “Citizen Journalist” for Filming Them

Apparently, a transit cop in Dallas doesn’t understand that Photography Is Not A Crime. Avi Adelman, who is described as a “Citizen Journalist” and local activist, was arrested by Officer Stephane Branch in February of this year by Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Officer Stephane Branch.

What was his diabolical crime you ask? Standing quietly and legally filming the police during a medical call, something that he does on a regular basis. (The excuse used to justify that illegal arrest was a trespassing charge.)

Of course, since that’s not actually a crime, the charges were soon dropped, although it still cost him 20 hours in jail. However, that’s where the trouble began for Officer Branch. Not only did Adelman notice on the police report that Branch had completely fabricated statements on her police report (otherwise known as perjury, which is a crime) to make it appear she had cause to arrest him, but a microphone she was wearing confirmed she was a liar.

Via WFAA8, the local ABC affiliate:

…when DART officer Stephane Branch gave her account of what happened in the report, she included supposed verbatim quotes between herself and Adelman, starting with “Sir, please stay back so the firefighters can help this man.”

“That sent up a lot of red flags because I looked at that and said, ‘This isn’t what happened,’” Adelman said.

A microphone Officer Branch was wearing captured what actually happened.

“Sir, leave – you’ve got to leave,” she could be heard saying on the recording. “I’m talking to my supervisor.”

The officer’s report also included quotes from Dallas Fire-Rescue personnel and a DART passenger, but the internal affairs investigation found those quotes were entirely made up.

Branch “engaged in conduct that was illegal or could reflect poorly on DART if brought to the attention of the public,” investigators said.

“A sworn law enforcement officer lied – thought she could get away with it – stood by her lies – and then they busted her,” Adelman said.

Of course, the amount of potential trouble she might get into is up in the air, since she has one of those Magic Suits in her closet that renders its wearer impervious to meaningful consequences for their actions, no matter how illegal, immoral, or even violent they might be.

Morgan Lyons, a DART spokesperson, has stated that the investigation has been completed. However, Internal Affairs has not yet decided just how hard they will be slapping her wrist yet. In the meantime, Officer Branch is still out there protecting and serving the shit out of people in Dallas.

For his part, Adelman is hoping she will be fired for her clearly illegal acts. However, I wouldn’t advise him to hold his breath on that. Stranger things have happened, but the fact that criminal charges for her illegal arrest and blatant perjurious actions in the process of that is a pretty good indicator that they are preparing a nice Policeman’s Discount for her and any “punishment” she receives will likely be for show and not anything of substance.

The Internal Affairs Report

Internal affairs report: DART officer fabricated quotes by wfaachannel8 on Scribd

Video Included in Local Coverage

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Virginia State Trooper Christopher D. Campbell Even Kills Dogs During His Off Time

The content below was originally posted at Photography Is Not A Crime! (PINAC) by . It discusses the arrest of Virginia State Police Trooper Christopher D. Campbell, who apparently loves killing innocent dogs so much that he even does it during his off time.

Unfortunately for him though, the fact he wasn’t wearing his magic suit at the time and fled the scene of the crime led to a manhunt for the (at the time) unknown killer of a family’s pet by the Manassas police, including the offer of a $1,000 reward for information about the identity of the “cold-hearted” killer.

Once that was all in motion, it was too late for his shiny badge to save him from having charges filed against him after he was tracked down. Now he’ll have to wait until his court date on May 5th to fear for his life and have the charges thrown out or receive a really light slap on the wrist in return for his “service” to the community.

Virginia Trooper Charged for Killing Dog While Off-Duty, Suspended Without Pay

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An off-duty Virginia State Trooper was charged with animal cruelty and discharging a firearm in a public place, only after police issued a reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect responsible for the fatal shooting of a pit bull.

Virginia trooper Christopher Daniel Campbell was charged in the puppycide, which the owner described as ‘cold hearted.’

Initially, local Manassas Police officers responded to calls from neighbors about gunshots.

When the city cops arrived, they found a brown pitbull, injured from the gunshot, but the dog was still alive.

The dog Che, was then taken to the animal hospital, where he later died from the wound inflicted by Trooper Campbell.

PINAC was unable to reach the owner of the dog, Che, Luci Marisol Flores. But we located her Facebook page where she posted about the incident on March, 9th, the day it occurred, saying:

Luci Marisol Flores

Someone just killed our Pitbull, Che! This happened in Manassas Park by Old Centreville Rd. If anyone has any information please contact us. How can anyone have that cold heart to kill an animal???

Fuk y’all whoever did this…

Flores later posted that the most difficult thing to do was inform her children about the death of Che, “The kids loved him so much, we all did.”

PINAC learned that information given by Campbell’s own department, Virginia State Police, led ultimately to Manassas police making the blue on blue arrest.

We spoke with Virginia State Police spokeswoman, Corrine Geller:

“As soon as we were made aware of the alleged incident, our supervisors notified the Manassa Park Police Department. We shared information with them and they proceeded with their investigation. They have their own criminal investigation because it’s their incident. We are simply cooperating with them in any way we can. But Virginia State Police have initiated an internal investigation [on Campbell].”

She also told insidenova.com, “We have no idea why it happened. We are still in shock that someone like him who is supposed to protect our community would commit such a cruel crime against a dog.”

Spokeswoman Geller did not comment about specific information that led to Trooper Campbell’s arrest, citing a Virginia State law states that arrest reports can be held until after a criminal case is over.

As you can see in the cover photo, an unidentified Virginia trooper is rescuing a dog, and it is now apparent that it’s not just for PR purposes, but from an agency that is demonstrating the kind of respect for life citizens demand of public servants.

Kudos to the Virginia State Police for doing the right thing, and bringing justice to one of their officers for breaking the law.

Normally, police are rarely criminally charged for shooting dogs, and hardly ever while on the job, because most departments actually train officers to shoot dogs they think could be a threat.

As we recently reported in PINAC News, West Virginia woman Tiffany Hupp was recently acquitted of obstruction charges, for standing between her dog and a state police officer who wanted to kill it.

In this case, Trooper Campbell was off-duty and running from the scene, which seems bizarre.

If he had a good reason to shoot Che, one would think there would be no reason to run.

Manassas Police did not a release any statement indicating motive for the crime, but said they identified Campbell as the shooter only after they received information from state police.

According to manassasparkpolice.com, the department had issued a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

We reached out to Manassas Park Police too, but they were not able to comment about the details of their investigation.

Apparently, the only way police are arrested is when they’re off-duty.

And this case is unique because it involved an investigation by another department before his own department shared information with investigators that led to his arrest.

Campbell has been placed on unpaid leave until after the criminal matters is resolved.

He is scheduled to appear in court on May, 5th.

Expect a follow up report.

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Time Photographer Assaulted And Choked by Secret Service Agent During Trump Rally

During a Donald Trump rally on Monday in Virginia, a Time magazine photographer was taking photos of a group of Black Lives Matter protesters that had interrupted the rally. Without any warning, Chris Morris was grabbed from behind, slammed to the ground, and choked by a Secret Service agent working at the rally.

Presumably, the reason why Morris was attacked was because he had taken a couple steps (eighteen inches) outside of the “designated press area.” However, as Carlos Miller points out in a post on Photography Is Not A Crime (PINAC), the job of the Secret Service is simply to protect candidates, not to dictate the behavior of media covering events. The photographer is pretty clearly not in any way threatening anyone, let alone Donald Trump. He was also not even the only member of the media within the area where he was attacked.

It’s getting to the point that on a daily basis there is a new report of Trump staff and/or attendees having attacked (often literally) someone who has dared to criticize their beloved fearmonger. And whether Trump himself is personally racist or is simply pandering to the lowest (and most disgusting) common denominator for votes, these attacks are becoming more and more race based as his campaign attracts that demographic. In one of the most blatant instances, in December at a Trump rally held in Las Vegas some of his supporters were caught on video yelling “white power” and “sieg heil” as a Black Lives Matter protester was being removed. There’s nothing ambiguous about either of those phrases.

While this particular incident was not racially based, it highlights yet another disturbing aspect of Trump’s increasingly neo-fascist rhetoric. The fact that a member of the media simply performing their job was attacked and then briefly threatened with arrest as a result of having been attacked is itself a troubling trend. Trump is the only candidate who has created an enclosed area that media are restricted to during campaign events. He also has himself called for increased legal restrictions on the press and the easing of protections against lawsuits by public figures against the media.

When a campaign is appealing to and even courting the support of nationalists and outright racists, advocating for ethnically and religiously based databases and restrictions, and attempting to limit the ability of people to criticize it, it’s not incredibly hard to figure out where those train tracks are headed should that campaign be successful.

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Game Over for Insert Coins’ and Their Abusive Bouncers (Update)

Game Over Insert CoinsApparently, Downtown Las Vegas bar-hoppers aren’t quite as quick to back abusive bouncers as Chris LaPorte, the owner of Insert Coins, was after a video (embedded below) of a man being beaten out front of his Fremont Street bar became public. Citing “a rapidly changing DTLV business environment” and the tough economy, it was announced July 9th that the previous night would be the last one for Insert Coins.

That was later revised to characterize it as a temporary closing, but don’t hold your breath waiting to play shitty, broken video games and buy overpriced drinks after paying an inflated cover charge in Las Vegas again. What closes in Vegas stays closed.

Insert Coins Protest2As was reported here at CopBlock.org as well as other places, such as PhotographyIsNotACrime.com, on February 12th there was an incident involving bouncers from several “Fremont East” bars. Bouncers from Insert Coin(s) initiated a confrontation by demanding a man move from the public sidewalk in front of their location, even though they had no actual authority to do so. When that man refused three of those bouncers knocked him to the ground and punched and choked him for a full minute after he was already down.

banner-storeWhile that was going on a passerby began recording it with his cellphone. Another bouncer from the Vanguard, which is located next door tried to prevent him from filming the beating. Finally, yet another bouncer from the Griffin crossed the street, grabbed his phone, smashed it on the ground, and then assaulted him, also.

Insert Coins Protest6Even though you can very clearly see the bouncers assaulting the man and not stopping even after he’s down on the ground and defenseless in the video, LaPorte refused to acknowledge they were wrong and even stated that he watched surveillance video of the altercation and that he “backs my guys.” He maintained that stance even after the Griffin actually did the right thing and fired the bouncer that broke the witness’ phone. Instead, LaPorte comically implored everyone to “get the whole story before believing what you see.”

Not surprisingly, some people in the community weren’t so willing to close their eyes during that video and blindly back Chris’ guys. A series of protests organized primarily by Nevada Cop Block and Southern Nevada Watchdogs, a local grassroots organization based in Las Vegas, followed over the next few weeks. Since it was claimed that the “transgression” of the man who was beaten was dancing on the sidewalk in front of their bar, one of the biggest and most publicized of the many held was dubbed the “Dance, Dance Revolution.”  That and others, including numerous impromptu protests involved the use of chalk messages and showing potential customers the video as they approached the entrance to Insert Coins to draw attention to the bouncers’ actions.

Hmmm…”financial challenges this year that [Insert Coins] cannot sustain”.

If they were more specific, they would say that their security guard brutally beat a homeless man for no reason and the public stopped going there (after weeks of protests).

Facebook post by Stephen Stubbs on Thursday, July 9, 2015

Insert Coins We Can DanceThe economy is still kinda crappy in Vegas and the bloom is just about completely off the Zappos rose in “the #DTLV.” So, I don’t really doubt those factors also played a part in Insert Coins getting unplugged. But you know what doesn’t help that when you’re a customer service based business? A giant PR disaster that’s so badly handled it turns into a month long public denouncement of your business. Even an eleventh hour attempt to donate to a group that gives food to local homeless people wasn’t enough to make that stink go away.

Insert Coins ChalkedI’m sure those bouncers were glad Chris LaPorte backs “his guys,” even when they violently attack people on video after one of them started a fight with that person (for no good reason). The rest of the former Insert Coins employees might not be so glad that they are all out looking for a job (during that crappy Vegas economy) because of the actions of three individuals, who were pretty clearly wrong regardless of what angle you watch them beat and choke a guy laying on the ground for over a full minute from.

It’s also a bit of an example of what might happen in response to all the police brutality and lack of any accountability at all, if a government mandated monopoly on police services didn’t remove any options people have for law enforcement and protection outside of the one committing all those beatings and murders then covering up for it.

**Disclaimer** This example of a very successful result to a chalk protest was not intentionally timed to promote the annual “Chalk the Police State” Day protests scheduled for July 18th. The fact that the closing of Insert Coins was announced the same day as the post for Chalk the Police State Day 2015 was published is pure coincidence (or was it).**

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Update on Mike Skidmore Arrest: Assault, Felony Charges, and Gunshots Fired

11209563_866061423449264_2323019255657097828_nEarlier today, we reported that Mike Skidmore, a CopBlocker from Ohio, had been arrested in Mansfield after what had been described as a “scuffle” at a County Commision meeting. Since that time, new information has become available that indicates this was not some minor scuffle. In fact, Mike was physically assaulted by security guards, during a dispute over whether meeting are required to be public. One of those security guards pulled his gun out at some point. That gun subsequently went off inside of a crowded room at the Richland County Administration Building. The actual confrontation appears to have been caused by employees at the admin building hiding their nametags in order to conceal their identity.

According to Photography is Not a Crime (PINAC):

One county employee, the secretary who records the meetings, turned her name tag around, prompting Skidmore to stand up, hold his camera close to the tag and attempt to take a photo.

And that prompted Richland County Commissioner Marilyn John to accuse Skidmore of inappropriately touching her, which led to another woman walking out of the room to beckon the security guards.

The security guards then walked in and made their way directly to Skidmore, who placed his hands around his camera to protect it.

“They attacked him,” said Connie Garber, the citizen who had asked about the name tags.

“They didn’t say, ‘you’re under arrest,’, they didn’t say, ‘give me your camera,’ they just went over there and started attacking him. They started beating on him and had pushed him into the corner. I walked to the other side of the room because I did not want to get hit.”

Once across the room, she saw Skidmore’s arms were up when the gun went off, which was when she ran out of the room.

Initial rumors were that they were going to accuse him of “reaching” for the guard’s gun, which is what led to the discharge.

But Garber said Skidmore’s arms were up in the air while they were attacking him, which was when one of the security guards pulled out his gun.

“His arms were way up high,” she said in a telephone interview with PINAC. “There was no way he could attempt to grab the gun.”

Mike has a history of filming during public meetings and other times while conducting business at government buildings and has had previous confrontations with security guards while doing so. In addition, Connie Garber, the witness quoted in the PINAC excerpt above, is the mother of an unarmed man that was killed by Mansfield police last year. Those security guards are actually retired Richland County sheriff’s deputies, which is the same department that killed Garber’s son.

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During a press conference after the incident, Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon stated that there are two videos which show the confrontation. However, in the same press conference he stated that they would not be releasing those videos. Also, it was announced that Mike is currently facing felony charges, as a result.

Plenty of questions remain at this point. Not the least of those questions is why a guard felt the need to pull a gun out in a crowded room, especially if Mike was already holding his hands above his head. Although, we don’t know the exact number of security guards involved, but it’s pretty apparent they outnumbered Mike. He obviously was unarmed at the time, so there should have been no reason to endanger a room full of people in that way. The fact the gun actually did go off more than proves the point of how senseless an act that was.

Once again, we ask that you call and/or email to ask what the situation is with Mike Skidmore and to put pressure on them to release him and his camera equipment with all video intact and drop any charges against him:

Richland County Sheriff
597 Park Avenue E.
Mansfield, Ohio 44905
Phone: 419.774.5881

Richland County Courthouse
50 Park Avenue E.
Mansfield Ohio 44902
Linda H. Frary, Clerk of Courts
Phone: 419-774-5549
Fax: 419.774.5547
[email protected]

And as before, stay tuned for updates as they become available!

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