July 29th, 2013

Florida Man Continues to Get Detained for Video Recording; Media Takes Notice 17

By Carlos Miller

 

Jeff Gray has been getting detained so much lately that I haven’t been able to keep this blog updated on his escapades.

But fortunately, a young journalist based in Florida took notice and decided to do a profile on Gray, who operates the popular HONORYOUROATH Youtube  channel where he posts frequent videos of law enforcement officers not honoring their oath.

Ethan Magoc has only been at WUFT News since May after graduating with a masters degree in journalism from the University of Florida, but if you check out his portfolio, you can tell he has a very solid nose for journalism, which is why he drove an hour north to interview Gray in front of the Lake City prison where he was assaulted by a warden last month for video recording.

After Magoc reached out to Gray for an interview, Gray invited him to the location where he had been assaulted for a picnic along with his 13-year-old son, who video recorded Magoc’s interview with Gray, which you can see above, proving that he already is more transparent than grizzled news veterans like CBS Miami’s Brian Andrews, who threw a fit when I tried to video record an interview in May.

Magoc is a modern-day journalist in that he writes, takes photos and shoots video. A multimedia journalist just as he describes himself in his bio. Most old-time journalists are unable to do that, which is why so many of them are struggling these days.

Granted, it would be preferable to allow journalists to focus on one thing to improve quality and thoroughness but these are the times we live in, so we must adapt in order to survive.

From Magoc’s piece that ran last week on WUFT:

Gray models the tactics of outlets like CopBlock.org and PINAC, or Photography is Not a Crime, based in Miami for which he is a correspondent. He tries to show viewers how to react to police in tense, real-life situations.

“I have gotten a little more daring… a lot more confident in myself,” Gray said. “I make sure what I’m doing is 100 percent legal before I do it.”

His approach has evolved from warning viewers about the Highway 301 speed traps near towns like Waldo and Lawtey to recording officers anywhere he sees them.

The tactics bring him cop scrutiny, but he seems to know exactly where the line is.

If he’s abiding the law on foot, and an officer asks for his identification, he can say no. And he does.

If he maintains distance from police operations, he can record an entire arrest or traffic stop.

And if he stands on public land while recording a prison, he’ll keep rolling even if a camera goes down.

WUFT, which is based out of the University of Florida, is also the North Central Florida affiliate for NPR and PBS. Listen to his radio piece on Gray here.

So what’s the latest with Gray?

On Saturday, he was detained for video recording outside the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, which seems to be a trend lately, even though there is no law against video recording or photographing a public building from a public space.

One of the deputies thought he had a knife in his pocket, which prompted another deputy to frisk him and pull it out, only to realize it was a flashlight.

A lieutenant arrived on the scene and had enough sense that the deputies were wasting their time because Gray had not been doing anything suspicious. Check out the video below.

 

 

Two weeks earlier, he was confronted and detained by Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies because he was open carrying a handgun while fishing, which is permissible under Florida law.

When they saw he was video recording, a deputy Griffin informed him that he was committing a felony by audio recording his voice without consent, so he took Gray’s camera and turned it off.

Fortunately, Gray had a back-up audio recorder in his back pocket, which allowed him to continue recording.

He was handcuffed and detained for 45 minutes before a lieutenant showed up and let him go.

Not only was he audio recording them without their knowledge, which is not against the law because they did not have an expectation of privacy in public, he was already listening to their scanner traffic through an iPhone police scanner app, which are effective as long as the agency doesn’t scramble its frequency.

The iPhone was in his back pocket along with his back-up recorder, which is going for $12.95 on Amazon. Both were essential in producing the video below.

Another PINAC reader suggested this body-mounted video recorder that is going for $44.49 at BH Photo, which I might purchase.

After all, it’s becoming very clear that we need to protect ourselves with back-up recorders that are not immediately visible to police.

Also, a photography magazine based out of New York City named Resource did a nice little write-up on Photography is Not a Crime last week.

 

 


Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.
  • rick

    The police have illegally detained and searched him so often I wonder is Mr. Gray ever going to pursue legal remedies for their violations?
    One might think with his body of work on YouTube Florida PDs would have more than enough training material to “remind” their officers what is legally required to detain and search an individual.

  • Freedom_Fighter_of_America
  • steveo

    Jeff: Do another “Give me your ID.” compilation. You must have about 100 by now.

    • http://www.righttorecord.org/ Mario K. Cerame

      Stop-and-ID article coming soon.

  • IceTrey

    I don’t think it’s legal to open carry at any time in Florida. 790.053 says explicitly
    that open carry is illegal. 790.25 says you may lawfully own, posses and use a firearm during a
    fishing trip. It doesn’t say you can open carry. He got off lucky.

  • http://www.righttorecord.org/ Mario K. Cerame

    Kudos to Gray for carrying the audio. I often carry an MP3 and a second camera–not into work or the like, but I have them in my car and use them when appropriate. The audio has 8 hours, so I’ll turn it on and leave it be. It’s a cheap device.

    If Gray is trying to build a Monell claim–a claim that the department training evinces a deliberate indifference to a kind of civil rights violation–it looks to me like he’s progressing.

  • Proud GrandPa

    I am surprised everyone missed the most impressive statement in the interview. Now we have to know the answer: How in the world did Mr. Gray get over 150,000 miles on his station wagon? The world wants to know.

  • Proud GrandPa

    Jeff,
    I think you need to rethink your methods and conform you tactics with that goal. What is your goal? You say it is to cause law enforcement to respect citizens’ rights to photography in public. Your tactic seems to be to test the level of respect for your rights and publicize LEO’s failure.
    .
    Probably you hope that by exposing the failure of those LEOs who are ignorant, you can educate them and transform them into law-abiding, rights-honoring, oath-honoring LEOs. As Dr. Phil asks, “How’s that working for you?”
    .
    Without judging your success or failure, may I suggest a slight tweak to the method which would make you much more effective in getting law enforcement to honor your rights. The suggestion: Contact LEO the day or two before you visit a department or a particular LEO and let him/her know what you intend to do. Present them with a document in advance so they have time to run it by their officer and get the low down. When you present the information, be friendly and provide ID at that time. Answer all questions.
    .
    When you meet these same police the next day or couple of days later, they will have no excuse, but they will not bother you. You will have achieved your goal. The following day send them sincere thank you messages and get out of Dodge.
    .
    This has worked very successfully for religious free speech advocates. Sometimes we have to go to court, but over several years, our attorneys and activists have transformed relations with police. Now they support and protect our rights.
    .
    If you want to see a success story, web search videos of college evangelists or street evangelists in past year or two versus those from 2009 and earlier. It takes time to change a nation’s police forces, but it was done.
    .
    You can too, but you need a better plan. Hope this helps, Jeff.

    • lberns

      Tell you what, Proud, why don’t you put your plan to work and show Jeff just how it’s done.

    • Liam

      For your specific purposes, where the point is the evangelism, not the conduct of the officers themselves, your tactic is entirely valid. Why sweat police misconduct when the misconduct is ancillary to your goal?

      For Jeff though, it would be entirely point defeating. Law enforcement officers are under obligation to obey the law, and protect the public at all times. Not just when they’ve been notified that someone cares, and are free to be thuggish jocks at others.

      Theoretically, no one is above the law, and that should apply in triplicate to those tasked with enforce it.

    • Freedom_Fighter_of_America

      That’s just it, you shouldn’t have to be bothered by random people calling themselves the government demanding you answer questioins. You are not their servant. People don’t have to answer questions, if the police don’t like it, tough. We are not employed by the police and are not answerable to the police. We don’t have to assist in our own prosecution. We can’t be forced to be a witness against ourselves. We shouldn’t have to go out of our way to accomodate them and give them copies of something the day before we go do something. I’m not gonna waste 2 hours of my day writing letters every day to the police department to tell them where i’m going to be and what i’m going to be doing. It doesn’t work that way. We don’t have to make itineraries of our day every day.

    • Joseph Murray

      Why in the world would Jeff, or anyone, want to build the expectation that the public needs permission beforehand to document government officials performing their duties? That’s insane. Not to mention syncophantic, obsequious, and every other groveling, bootlicking adjective I can think of. You come across the cops brutalizing some schmuck in an alley and approach with ‘Excuse me Officer, Sir, may I beg your kind indulgence by troubling you for a short, unobtrusive video from a respectful distance please?’ Yeah I’m sure that’ll work. You smell more like a concern troll every day, gramps.

      • Proud GrandPa

        Joe,

        Thanks for the reply. You misunderstand my post and the reason for it. Let me clarify. You asked, “Why in the world would Jeff, or anyone, want to build the expectation that the public needs permission beforehand to document government officials performing their duties?” That is most DEFINITELY NOT what I wrote. Just the opposite is my point. Read it again.
        .
        The public does not need police permission to photograph their normal duties. The benefit of approaching them a day or two before is to assert one’s rights and to educate the LEOs without their egos being at stake. This benefits the police because they are able to avoid lawsuits and comply with the law. This benefits the photog because it prevents police harassment.
        .
        And what if the police harass anyway? That is what the preparation covers. It has already enlisted the support and agreement of the city attorney and chief of police on your side. If the street level LEO is wise, he will not fight the law. See the wisdom of that policy?
        .
        Joseph, FYI, I am most certainly not a troll. Do not suppress ideas that you do not understand or which may be different from yours. The hallmark of democracy is freedom of controversial speech. I am sincere and will dialog with you about ideas. When I am mistaken, as has happened several times here, I freely admit it as Ex-Cop and Steveo can verify.
        .
        Hope this is helpful. And it has worked successfully for us with police and campus security. It will work for photogs too.

        • Proud GrandPa

          I should add the following in case there is any misunderstanding. The information letter and meeting is a one-time only event. Once the police admin and city attorney are on our side, it is over. We’ve won. Period.
          .
          That being the case we are free to exercise our rights without police harassment, because we’ve already won the argument with their superiors. Sorry everyone if I didn’t make that clear in my original post. And thanks to Freedom_Fighter in his post below for pointing out this misunderstanding.

  • Photog at Large

    “He’s carrying fishing equipment, don’t know if that means anything.”

    Not to state the obvious, but it probably means he’s going f-i-s-h-i-n-g.

    I don’t understand how so many police officers, security and other ‘authority’ figures can readily go to the wiretapping statute and not realize it does not apply in public spaces. Or see the irony that their vehicles and body worn devices do exactly what they are saying private citizens cannot do.

    Similarly, if LEOs are going to be tutored regarding statutes involving weapons, they should not be given the one trick pony about no open carry. They should ALWAYS be aware of any exceptions to something as important as weapons. Of course, so should us citizens. I actually did not know about the exceptions – so thank you for including that along with the right to video in public portion.

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