First Amendment Auditors arrested for "unauthorized photography" inside public lobby of Bedford Park post office
First Amendment Auditors arrested for "unauthorized photography" inside public lobby of Bedford Park post office
On March 9th, two First Amendment Auditors were arrested for the “crime” of engaging in unauthorized photography within the lobby of a Bedford Park, Illinois post office.

Note: The videos 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.

The videos embedded below show 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, obviously, is very much an example of that and is commonly referred to as an “audit fail” among those who do them. In the first video, the two women walk into what appears to be a lobby of the Bedford Park (IL) post office and begin filming. Soon after, an employee starts questioning why they are taking photos and asking them to identify themselves (while ignoring a request for water in response to him asking if he can help them).

Not long after that, two people who appear to be some sort of managers arrive. They begin telling the first guy to call the postal inspector and the police to deal with this dangerous threat of someone recording video in a public place. One of the managers even states that they can videotape, but contends that they need to identify themselves because “you’re on postal property.”

Within the same conversation he later claims that they are trespassing. Then there’s a lot of photography going on for somewhere that you supposedly need authorization to take photos. Apparently, it’s okay because the photos are being taken by postal employees of other people, though. The “process for that” the manager had mentioned earlier (which apparently consists of identifying yourself to someone whom you have no legal obligation to do so) doesn’t seem to apply in this instance.

Once the police eventually arrive, the conversation revolves around the claim that they are “trespassing on public property.” The reason for that claim is largely based on the fact that the lobby they were in is connected to the employee entrance for the post office. In spite of that contention, there are no signs or any other indicators that the area they were in is a restricted area.

In addition, the entrances and lobbies of public buildings are specifically mentioned as locations in which the public may take photographs (unless it is specifically prohibited) in a memo issued by Homeland Security in 2010. Not only are there no barriers or locked doors to prevent someone from entering the area they were in, there are in fact (visible early within the first minute of the video) boxes and other items for sale within it.

Also, at no time, prior to the police arriving do any of the postal employees state that the area is restricted or designated as an employee only area. Their only stated point of contention is that it’s “postal property” and that the two First Amendment Auditors are taking photos of postal employees without identifying themselves, which is not illegal. So there’s no legitimate reason given why they should be unable to legally record from what by all indications is a publicly accessible space.

Initially, they were told by the police officers who responded that they were free to go (i.e. not being detained) and the postal manager stated numerous times that he just wanted them to leave (or be removed) from the property. However, as can be seen in the video embedded below, once they actually tried to leave, they were followed and then detained, placed in handcuffs, and confined within a police car.

Eventually, that detention evolved into an arrest on charges of “criminal trespass on real property.” Seemingly, that charge is based on a claim of them having engaged in “unauthorized photography,” according to the postal manager. They are currently scheduled for court on April 10th at the Cook County Injustice Center, which is located in Bridgeview, Il.

If you would like to  contact the court and let them know what a mighty fine job their employees did that day you can reach the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court at (708) 974-6500. The Bedford Park Post Office can also be reached at (708) 563-7800 and a review of their customer service can be left at their Yelp page.

One of the women in the videos, who goes by the pseudonym “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. During this particular audit, she was accompanied by “Chitown Sue,” who states on the video that this is only her fourth time doing an audit. (#BeginnersLuck)

Previous 1st Amendment Audit at Same Post Office (Sept. 2017)

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