UPDATE III – March 15th, 3:30pm – Jeff Gray has been released, finally, from St. Johns County Jail. Here is his statement
“I am out of jail and safely at home. I walked out of jail around 1pm today 3/15/16. I was treated well by SJSO Jail staff. I want to thank everybody for their support and calls to the jail. Word got back to me that the phone lines were melting.”
UPDATE II – March 15th, 9:45am: Jeff Gray has been arraigned and his wife has confirmed to PINAC News that she is posting bail promptly. The St. Johns County Judge refused to drop charges, but reduced bail to $250.
St. Johns County held Jeff Gray overnight because their antiquated system of “justice” doesn’t allow citizens to bail out after 5pm. He should be free within a few hours. Charges against Gray have changed from a common trespassing charge, back into a “School Safety Zone” trespassing charge according to SJCSO’s website which has been up and down since the time of the arrest.
Operators are standing by at St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office to listen to your concerns at (904) 824-8304.
UPDATE – March 14th, 6pm: PINAC’s Newsroom reports that PINAC reporter Jeff Gray has been charged with violating Florida Statute 810.08 (2) b., which is trespassing in a structure occupied by others, and is awaiting release on $500 bail, confirmed by SJCSO’s website which has been up and down this afternoon.
It’s a first degree, misdemeanor charge, but not why the officers said they arrested Gray.
This would seem to contraindicate the details seen in the video below, where the officer told Mr. Gray that he was under arrest for the School Safety Zone act, but would comport with the flawed trespassing letter issued by St. Augustine high, which you can see below.
At any rate, when the video commences, Mr. Gray is standing in a public right of way, holding a sign in peaceful protest. A public right of way or sidewalk is considered traditional public fora for 1st Amendment protected expression.
Operators are standing by at St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office to listen to your concerns at (904) 824-8304, and under Florida Statute 119 would have to provide to you a copy of the radio chatter explaining why they arrived at the scene, since the deputies obviously knew Jeff Gray upon sight.
Florida Sheriff’s deputies illegally enforced the “school safety zones” trespassing law against PINAC reporter Jeff Gray, outside of a St. Augustine high school earlier today.
Gray complied with law enforcement orders, and is currently being held in the northeastern Florida St. Johns County jail, but oddly no charges are listed with his mugshot, unlike all of the other suspects as you can see below.
The St. Johns Sheriff’s Office has wanted to detain Gray for many months now, after the local schools Superintendent declared him persona non grata, even though Gray has a son currently attending St. Augustine High School and two other children in the system.
Jeff Gray was arrested while protesting with a sign in hand, the SLAPP lawsuit filed against him by St. Johns Schools last December. The legal action was filed along with 38 SLAPP letters sent to his home address by certified mail, one of which invoked Florida Statute 810.0975 and its “school safety zones.”
“How are you doing, Mr. Gray?” asked the Florida deputy as he got out of his patrol car, wearing street clothing, to which Jeff responded, “Pretty good. How are you?”
“May I ask you why are you here?” asked the St. Johns sheriff’s deputy.
“I am peacefully assembling and peacefully protesting,” replied Gray
“Ok. Do you realize [that] this is a violation of your no trespass order that was issued. Correct?” asked the deputy
“No, it’s not actually. There’s a provision that that says “shall not infringe on the right to peacefully assemble and protest If you look in the statute, it’s right there,” said Gray, whose HonorYourOath YouTube page is famously filled with instances like these where the reporter very carefully expresses to the officers his statutory or constitutional rights, and he re-iterated for emphasis, “In the statute. That’s why I’m here.”
“This is within the 500 foot safety rule, so i’m putting you under arrest for violation of that trespass order,” replied the Florida deputy who seemed to suddenly remember that Gray is a reporter and would in all likelihood be recording the scene, “If you would, put your sign down, turn your phone off, put your hands behind your back, turn around please. Put your hands together like you’re praying, please.”
Gray surrendered to detainment.
“If you look at the statute, there’s a provision…” said Gray as the sheriff’s deputy cuffed him.
But Jeff Gray is right.
The last sentence of the “School Safety Zones” statute reads: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to abridge or infringe upon the right of any person to peaceably assemble and protest.”
The letter sent by St. Augustine High School is below and doesn’t clearly indicate an invocation of the “school safety zones” act, and in fact, it just uses [Fill in Blank] here where noting the applicable school covered by the letter.
Furthermore, the warning letter to Gray indicates very specifically a warning for being, “on school grounds” which a public right of way, swale or sidewalk in front of a school would appear not to be.
This story is breaking and may be updated soon, as Jeff Gray’s attorneys and PINAC’s team are contacting the local law enforcement agency to seek a swift resolution of this false arrest.
Gray is already positioned to file a federal civil rights lawsuit over the entire saga, and St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office who’d heretofore been lawful and applied the law correctly, if menacingly through the ordeal has now crossed the line and will likely face future legal action either way.
(Story Continues Below Video)
What were Gray’s alleged crimes leading to “school safety zone” legal hell?
Investigating school bus safety, secretly recording public employees skipping bus safety inspections on the side of public roads and requesting public records under the Florida Consitution’s Sunshine Law.
And photographing near schools days after mass shootings occur on the other side of the country.
Gray’s real crime?
Pissing off Dr. Joseph Joyner, who Gray recorded last September in a public meeting openly slandering his journalistic activities and calling Gray a “dangerous man.”
The St. Johns County School Board, it’s General Counsel and Superintendent even violated Florida’s open meetings Sunshine Law to file the ill advised lawsuit against Gray, and they admitted as much to the local media.
Turns out, that Gray was right about the school bus safety problems too, as further PINAC investigations turned up missing bus safety audits, which were required after the Florida Department of Education found the St. Johns School District failed a self-audit in 2006.
A hearing in the civil lawsuit has been scheduled for this spring to Jeff Gray’s attorney, Lesley McKinney.
The local Facebook page Corrupt St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office shows that this isn’t just a first time offense for the north Florida law enforcement agency, so consider picking up the phone and asking them why they disrespect the 1st Amendment at (904) 824-8304.