A gun-strapping man carrying a Confederate flag in Virginia did not appreciate being photographed in public, so he asked a Richmond police officer to have the man arrested for harassment.
The officer blew him off, telling the man it was a public park.
“He can take a picture of me if he wants to,” the cop said, turning to the photographer and telling him, “hi.”
“So when I put water down his camera … ?” the man asked the cop, holding up a bottle of water, suggesting that he might take the law into his own hands.
“If you put water on his camera, then you’ll have to deal with destruction of property,” the cop responded.
“I’m asking him to leave me alone,” the man said, walking away.
“I’ll deal with it,” the cop responded.
The video ends but Shepherd Johnson, the man with the camera, said the cop suggested that he perhaps keep his distance because that guy may do something stupid, but he did not order him to stop taking photos of him.
Johnson told Photography is Not a Crime that he did not obtain the officer’s name, which is unfortunate because we would like to praise him for doing what so many other cops have trouble doing. Keeping it simple. Keeping it lawful. And keeping it from escalating.
The exchange took place earlier today near a memorial for Jefferson Davis, who served as president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
The memorial had been spray painted with “black lives matter” Wednesday night.
In response to the vandalism, a group of men were standing around with their flags, open carrying pistols, which is legal in Virginia.
Johnson said he was taking photos as was the rest of the media, including photographers from the Associated Press, Richmond Times-Dispatch and Reuters.
They noticed him photographing them and asked which news company he was representing.
This is how he explained it in a Facebook message:
I said, I’m a freelance photographer, etc. I’m a citizen out on the median expressing my First Amendment rights. Just like them.
They didn’t like that and assumed I was there to do a hit piece.
He said he was also approached by a couple of other cops who were equating the vandalism with extremism and kept telling him that “all lives matter” and “blue lives matter.”
Then one cop took his photo. Or maybe even recorded video, holding the camera sideways, which so many citizens fail to do.