On two separate occasions, a man was taking photos outside a federal building in Tampa when he was harassed by a federal officer who demanded to know the purpose of his photos.
Fortunately, Joel Chandler knew his rights and refused to allow himself to be intimidated by the officers.
In fact, Chandler, a Photography is Not a Crime reader, recorded both exchanges with video cameras he was wearing on his body.
The videos provide a good lesson in how to deal with officers in these situations.
Chandler doesn’t raise his voice nor is he insulting towards the officers, but he remains firm in not giving in to their demands by making it clear he is very aware of the law and his rights.
In the most recent video, a federal officer who identifies himself as John Bird states the following:
“I am requesting your ID and if you allow me to see it, I will take the information down and allow Federal Protective Service to do an investigation after that.”
But Chandler refused to provide his ID after clarifying that it was just a request and not a demand under the Terry Stop Law, which allows law enforcement officers to detain people under reasonable suspicion.
In fact, the federal officer admitted he didn’t even know what the Terry Stop Law is, proving there is a serious deficiency in training procedures for these officers.
After all, the Terry Stop Law is one of the most fundamental court rulings in clarifying when an officer is allowed to detain a person or not.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
Chandler: “It’s still a free country, I can still walk down a public sidewalk.”
Bird: “It’s not totally free but it’s free enough …. We lost a lot of our freedoms due to terrorism.”
The officer then notices the Flip camera strapped to Chandler’s body.
Bird: Is that on?
Chandler: Does it matter?
Bird: It does to me.
Chandler: It doesn’t matter. You’re in a public space. You have no expectation of privacy.
Bird: Well that’s true because we got you on camera right now.
Chandler: Right, and I haven’t broken any laws.
Bird: Not that I know of.
Chandler then walked away and continued taking photos. When he returned to his car, which was parked about a block away from the federal building, he saw the officer walking away from it. A homeless man told Chandler that the officer wrote down his license plate number.
In the first incident, which was recorded last month and posted below the first video, a pair of Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers confront Chandler when they spot him taking photos from a public sidewalk outside a federal building.
They demand to know why he is taking photos and from what organization he is from. They also ask where he lives. Here is a breakdown of the conversation:
Chandler: “I guess I should ask at this point is this a casual conversation or a Terry Stop?”
Officer: “This is a casual conversation … I’m just wondering, you look a little curious there.”
Chandler: “You guys don’t mind if I take your picture, do you?”
Officer: “I do mind.”
Chandler: “Really? But we’re in a public space.”
Officer: “Can I see your ID, please?”
Chandler: “Now it’s a Terry Stop.”
And then they try tell him he is not allowed to photograph a federal officer after the federal officer asks him not to take his picture. But he asserts his rights to take their picture.
Officer: Not when a federal officer tells you no, you cannot take a picture of him.”
Chandler: “I don’t need your consent to take your picture.”
The second officer realizes that Chandler is not your typical dumb American who is clueless about his rights, so he takes the first officer aside and explains to him that Chandler is, in fact, legally allowed to photograph them. Then they both walk away, wishing Chandler a nice day.
Chandler, who fittingly operates the site I Am Troublemaker, said he started getting visitors to his site from various federal agencies in Washington DC the day after he posted the first video.
So I’m sure they’ll get a kick out of this post.