It appears that exercising your First Amendment rights can make you a target of the domestic security apparatus. Jeff Gray, of PINAC and HonorYourOath, has made a mission out of filming cops and taking photographs of public buildings- such as prisons and government buildings, to ensure that officers honor the oath they swore to uphold the Constitution.
Exercising his rights has apparently made him a victim of stalking by law enforcement, as Gray has had his vehicle tags and drivers license run over 200 times. This includes two district attorney’s offices as well as 100 different officers in 28 different law enforcement agencies.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security opened an investigation on him as a potential “threat.” The investigation concluded that his activities were fully protected actions under the Constitution.
“This subject is exercising his first amendment rights, however the manner in which he lures the officers in is concerning.”
Although in part, the large number of times his information was run is due to his frequent contact with law enforcement, the sheer volume of accessed records shows a disturbing pattern.
The security apparatus is seeking any means possible to negate his activism and exercising of his rights.
Even though DHS has come to the conclusion that Gray’s activities are protected speech, it hasn’t stopped local law enforcement from sending social services to his home and interviewing his children without his knowledge or consent at their school.
Although filming officers and public building may make those being filmed feel uncomfortable, these actions provide accountability and are the right of the people. Every citizen would be well advised to film any encounter with law enforcement as a means of having an objective record of the interaction.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis and on Facebook at Sir Metropolis.