Even after cops detained him more more than 20 minutes for photographing buildings in the New York State Police Academy in Albany this week, releasing him after they were unable to find a legal reason to arrest him, they still sent one of their terrorist task force members to his home to further intimidate him.
But Matthew Grunert, 22, handled the cop in the same way he handled the three previous cops: refusing to provide his identification unless they were able to specify what reasonable suspicion they had to detain him, demanding their names and badge numbers instead.
So now we can imagine he is already on their terrorist watch list as so many of us are these days.
After all, one of the cops asked if he was a “sovereign citizen,” which they are taught to view as domestic terrorists.
“I found it personally insulting and offensive that he would ask me that,” Grunert said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
“I respect the laws in this country, I respect the Constitution.”
Now he is making public records requests to see exactly what information they have on him as well as what training procedures they have in place to teach aspiring cops on the right to record in public.
However, today he learned that Inspector Matthew Gilbert, the cop who visited his home and whose business card is below, paid a visit to his mother at the church she volunteers to further the intimidation process. We will update with more info later tonight on that interaction.
“That just doesn’t sit right with me,” he said. “I’m not a criminal. Why am I being treated like a criminal?”
Grunert is about to complete a master’s program in computer science.
“I’ve been attending SUNY Albany for five years and the police academy is next door,” said the man who has degrees in criminal justice and computer science.
“I just wanted to do a walking tour of the police academy.”
UPDATE: The following is an email from Grunert regarding Gilbert’s visit with his mother:
Just got off the phone with my mother about thirty minutes ago. He called her around 2:00 PM, she didn’t answer. At about 4:15, she returned to the rectory next to the church with the nun she visits the sick with on Fridays. Gilbert waited until my mother was alone then approached her, identified her by name before she had said anything, and asked to talk at her home. She took him into the church to talk. He was quite insistent that I not be listening in and she not record the conversation.
Investigator Gilbert wanted to know:
– If my demeanor had changed in the past year or two, specifically if I had become more paranoid,
– Curious as to why I invoked the Fifth, saying it was odd and unnecessary,
– Kept trying to get my mother to implicate me as not trustworthy. She kept telling him that she trusted me completely. He apparently didn’t like that.
– He claimed I told him that he was going to be a star in a movie.
– He wouldn’t answer when she asks if it had been her instead of me if they would even be having that conversation.
– He said someone gave me the wrong advice about the Fifth.
I’ve apparently become a person of interest for taking pictures of buildings.