Home / PINAC News / Las Vegas Police Claim Camera-Wielding Citizens Compromising Officer Safety

Las Vegas Police Claim Camera-Wielding Citizens Compromising Officer Safety

FOX5 Vegas – KVVU

Las Vegas police are accusing so-called sovereign citizens of posing a threat to their safety because they tend to video record them during traffic stops.

But if all they are wielding are cameras, then police should have no fear for their safety, even if the U.S. Government does define the sovereign citizen movement as a domestic terrorist group.

Here is how Wikipedia describes the sovereign citizen movement:

The sovereign citizen movement is a loose grouping of American litigants, commentators, and financial scheme promoters. Self-described sovereign citizens take the position that they are answerable only to common law and are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state or municipal levels, or that they do not recognize U.S. currency and that they are “free of any legal constraints”.[1][2][3] They especially reject most forms of taxation as illegitimate.[4] Participants in the movement argue this concept in opposition to “federal citizens” who, they say, have unknowingly forfeited their rights by accepting some aspect of federal law.[5]

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classifies “sovereign citizens” among domestic terror threats as anti-government extremists.[6] In 2010 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimated that approximately 100,000 Americans were “hard-core sovereign believers” with another 200,000 “just starting out by testing sovereign techniques for resisting everything from speeding tickets to drug charges.”[7]

So if that’s the case, then police should have no trouble finding something to charge them that has nothing to do with video recording them in public, which is completely legal.

But Fox5 News in Las Vegas came out with an investigative “special report” titled “Video Vigilantes: Are They Going Too Far?” in which they failed to mention a single instance of camera-wielding sovereign citizens who caused any harm to police officers.

Wikipedia does report that law enforcement officers were killed by sovereign citizens in Louisiana and Arkansas and that Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols was a sovereign citizen but those guys were wielding something a little more lethal than cameras.

According to the Fox5 News report:

“We have had situations where a sovereign citizen was stopped, and they immediately got on their cell phone,” said Al Salinas, a Metro officer and director of the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center.

“Within a short amount of time, a second vehicle arrives at the officer’s stop, and there are several individuals within that vehicle that are videotaping the police officer,” Salinas continued.

While police acknowledge it is legal, they say it can cross a line, even threatening an officer’s safety.

“Our concern is when the individuals, the citizens, become so aggressive with the videotaping, they approach upon the officer’s immediate area, immediate space, where it draws the officer’s attention away from where it should be,” said Salinas.

First of all, how is that different than when police call for back-up when they pull you over for a traffic violation? If so many police officers didn’t have a tendency to create their own version of the truth, there would be no need for camera-wielding citizens.

Second of all, anybody who has any experience with cameras knows you can’t stand too close to your subject if you want to document it, so I hardly believe these guys are invading the cops’ “immediate area.”

The truth is, we have seen endless cases of cops invading the immediate area of the camera-wielding citizen. Not the other way around.

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All that is taking place here is another attempt to equate camera-wielding citizens as domestic terrorists. And another example of the media falling for it.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.