A security guard threw a man out of a public school board meeting for attempting to video record officials with his iPad, calling it an “intimidating act.”

Apparently, the iPad hasn’t caught on yet in Alabama.

Huntsville school district security officer Al Lankford told Russell Winn that he was “intimidating the board” with his flat-screen, high-tech device.

A news crew that was video recording the meeting with a traditional camera was allowed to remain.

Alabama law states that a “meeting of a governmental body, except while in executive session, may be openly recorded by any person in attendance by means of a tape recorder or any other means of sonic, photographic or video reproduction provided the recording does not disrupt the conduct of the meeting.”

According to The Huntsville Times:

“When an individual is seen as disruptive or potentially threatening, security personnel are empowered to make contact with individuals to determine their intentions and to ascertain their potential to pose a threat to the safety of Board proceedings,” said Rena Anderson, Superintendent Casey Wardynski’s community engagement director, in an email Monday.

A vocal critic of Wardynski and the board, Winn writes frequently about the district on his blog, But Winn’s recording of the board meeting did not appear to disrupt the meeting.

Several board members said they did not even notice he was doing it. Topper Birney said he did see Winn recording the meeting but wasn’t threatened by it.

“I saw him doing it, but I didn’t think it was too scary, him holding that iPad, or whatever it is,” Birney said.

Lankford refused to comment for the above article and Winn gave his full side on the story on his blog.

In other words, I’ve seen nothing in the audience’s body language and demeanor that would lead me to the conclusion that someone was behaving in a threatening manner. What I see at board meetings are people laughing, talking, applauding, saluting, and mostly sitting quietly and listening to the meeting.

Now, granted, I’m not there to watch the audience; I’m there to listen to the business being conducted. I’m also not a trained security officer. I know for a fact that a trained police officer is capable of “seeing” more than I.

But I am a writer and a teacher. I take my subject matter from observation of people as a writer, and I know when my students are alert, engaged, interested and learning (and I know when they are not) on the basis of their body language. So, while I do not have the years of training that I am sure Mr. Lankford has in identifying a threat, I do believe I am capable of seeing and noticing when someone is behaving in a threatening manner.

So while this is just my unprofessional assessment, not once have I seen anyone in the audience behave in a way that would cause me to be concerned about my safety.


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I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.

My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.

So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.

You can also contribute to my Legal Defense Fund by purchasing a photographer rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag.Please write “carlos3” in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.

Petition the Obama Administration

I’ve launched a petition insisting President Obama protect the rights of citizens to record police in public without fear of getting arrested. We need to get 25,000 signatures in less than a month for them to review it.

It takes only five minutes to register and sign, so it’s worth the effort even if it goes nowhere.

 Hair Transplant 

Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested.