A military police officer detained PINAC editor Jeff Gray for photographing a Naval Air Station from across the street in Jacksonville this week, raising the question if military officers even have authority to detain civilians who have not step foot on the base, especially for something that is protected by the First Amendment.
Gray was investigating a report from a reader who told him he was chased away by military police after taking photos of the Blue Angel airplane that is on permanent display outside the base, which happens to be in one of the busiest intersections of the city.
It took about seven minutes before a military police officer drove up to Gray, demanding his identification because he was “taking pictures of the base” – a very visible base that is seen by thousands of commuters daily.
The military police officer also insisted that they have the right to photogra›ph civilians, but civilians do not have the right to photograph them.
“I have you on camera taking pictures of the base, I need your ID,” the MP says.
“Am I being detained?” Gray asks.
“Yes, you are right now, until I can get your information.”
“For what reason?”
The officer doesn’t answer, but calls for back-up, claiming that Gray is refusing to provide identification, even though he did hand him a card with his name and date-of-birth.
Another military police officer arrives as well as a Jacksonville sheriff’s deputy.
Eventually, they allow him to be on his way, but only after the second military police officer walked up to Gray’s card and photographed it from various angles, not realizing he was being recorded by Gray’s dash cam, which can be purchased for a little more than $100.