Less than a month after PINAC crew members were harassed, threatened and one even battered for video recording outside a Drug Enforcement Administration building in Florida, another man decided to do the same to a DEA building in Texas Thursday, receiving almost the same reaction.
Brett Sanders was not breaking the law as a 2010 settlement with Homeland Security determined that it is legal to photograph federal buildings.
But as we’ve seen, that has made absolutely no difference to the security guards outside the buildings, not to mention the federal agents inside the building.
First, a security guard told him he was not allowed to do that, but when he asked her if it was an actual law, she hesitated, then decided to call the agents outside.
The first agent that stepped out stormed up to his face and ordered him to turn the camera off twice, but Sanders refused, so the agent had to settle for peppering him with the usual questions, then demanding his identification.
And when Sanders refused to provide it, another agent crowded into Sanders’ personal space, telling him he was trying to read his press pass, warning him that if he came any closer, he would be arrested for trespassing.
However, if the agent had gotten any closer, he would have committed battery, not that he would have been arrested for it.
“You got a camera at a federal building sir,” the second agent said. “It’s national security what’s going on here.”
The first agent remained with a quizzical expression on his face, apparently unable to put two and two together that Sanders was simply doing what many citizens around the country are doing; testing their knowledge on the law in regards to legal photography of federal buildings.
The second agent continued walking into Sanders, putting his face directly into his face, telling him he was only doing so to “have a conversation” with him as if all conversations are preceded by attempted make-out sessions.
“I actually like close, close conversation,” the agent responded when Sanders asked him to back away.
But it was obvious he was hoping for Sanders to shove him back, even slightly, which would have resulted in a violent takedown and arrest on charges of battery on a federal agent.
“You just hit my glasses,” the agent said after he shoved his face into Sanders’ face, highlighting the importance of recording every encounter with law enforcement officers because if they create their own reality on camera, imagine what they will do off-camera.
Meanwhile, the first agent who had stepped away after obtaining Sanders’ name from his Infowars press pass, returned and started asking him about living in Frisco, Texas, indicating he had already done a full background search on him.
After a few minutes of discussion on the effectiveness of the drug war, Sanders walked away, wishing them all a good day.
By now, it should be common knowledge among law enforcement officers that there is a growing movement of citizens with cameras that are doing nothing more than testing their reactions to the cameras, making a viral stand for transparency in the wake of a growing lack of transparency within government.
We may be rabble-rousers but we’re not terrorists. And they should already know this considering how many of us they monitor.
But they still insist on doing the whole song and dance about safety and security, hoping to intimidate us from recording when it’s becoming clear those days are over. The citizens are learning their rights and are not afraid to stand up for them.
We’re not going away and neither are they. But they should at least save themselves from these embarrassing videos.