In an exclusive interview with The Free Thought Project, a self-proclaimed constitutional rights activist is speaking out about his ordeal with Nevada police after he refused to tell an officer his date of birth. He said that in addition to being arrested, he has been harassed ever since.
Joshua Martinez said he became interested in Cliven Bundy’s ongoing conflict with the Bureau of Land Management back in April 2014. He said Bundy’s problems led him to become a student of the Constitution.
In December 2015, in a show of support for the Bundy family and their involvement with a stand-off with the FBI in Oregon that led to the death of LaVoy Finicum, Martinez raised LaVoy Finicum’s cattle brand, AKA the “LaVoy Finicum” flag on the Nevada federal courthouse steps.
Then in January, Martinez said he began passing out pocket copies of the U.S. Constitution and jury notification pamphlets. It was his way of being a good citizen, “but in the eyes of the government we rattle their cage and they don’t appreciate that,” he told TFTP.
Martinez did not get arrested for passing out the Constitution, but somehow he became a person of interest to courthouse officials and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
The FBI and the U.S. Marshalls took notice as well. Martinez said it all started in February when he attempted to be a spectator at some of the court proceedings involving defendants who were being tried for their role in the now-infamous occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
But Martinez was more interested in being able to attend the proceedings without having to identify himself. His current contention is with forced identification. He went to the courthouse on Feb. 6, but was not allowed entry on the basis that he did not have a valid form of identification.
First, the courthouse security, on behalf of the U.S. Marshalls, informed Martinez that he was not allowed to enter and observe the court proceedings without a valid identification. Asking to speak with a Marshall directly, he was met with several unidentified U.S. Marshalls who promptly informed Martinez he couldn’t come in without an ID.
Martinez wanted to sue the U.S. Marshalls for discriminating against him on the basis that he did not have identification and disallowing him from observing the court’s proceedings. But he said he had a problem. He had no idea who the Marshalls were who would not let him come inside.
Martinez said he decided to go back on Feb. 7 in an attempt to identify the very people who told him he couldn’t come inside without an ID.
Instead of obtaining the named of the Marshalls, Martinez was arrested. He said he passed through the metal detector and was in possession of a valid state-issued ID just in case, but after presenting his ID, they ran his ID and then informed him the “U.S. Marshalls don’t want you in the courtroom.” He and his friends left the building and sat on one of the courthouse benches outside.
“It’s all about conditioning us to live as slaves,” Martinez said. “when an officer gives us a command we have to do it. That’s all it’s about!”
Martinez, along with a few of his friends, were sitting outside the courthouse on public property when police arrived and swarmed him. Apparently, someone inside the courthouse called police about his attempts to get information on the U.S. Marshalls.
Metro PD was called and when they arrived, they began to question Martinez, who had already identified himself. They pressed him for more information, demanding his date of birth, a detail he was not willing to offer them.
Martinez said his rationale was that since he had committed no crime, he was not suspected of having committed a crime, and since he was not being detained, he was therefore under no obligation to cooperate with police.
Patriots such as Martinez seem to understand that if the so-called authority police possess is not challenged, more individuals will have their civil rights violated, such as attempting to go about their lives without having to carry an ID.
“Hiibel vs. Nevada states first and last name is required and nothing more. It doesn’t say anything about giving a date of birth or anything else,” Martinez said, as justification for why he refused to tell the officers his date-of-birth.
As can be heard in the video, one of the officers told another that Martinez was not under investigation, and was not trespassing. However, even though no crime was committed, Metro PD continued to ‘investigate’ further, eventually deciding to arrest Martinez.
Martinez was charged with “obstruction of justice,” even though no crime had been committed. He simply did not want to cooperate with police by providing any further identification and was arrested for it.
“Body cam footage of my arrest in front of the federal courthouse in Las Vegas Nevada on February 7, 2017. In the video, you can hear one officer inform the officer who made contact with me that I was not trespassed and that I was on public property. Reasonable suspicion was met when they learned I was not breaking any laws.”
Police often charge individuals with “obstruction” when all other attempts to criminalize an otherwise innocent individual are made. The charges lead to innocent people being arrested, fined, jailed (sometimes for months), and when they go to court, those charges are then often dropped.
If citizens truly have civil liberty, they should be allowed to come and go as they please without arousing the suspicions of police or government workers. But when everyone is seen as a suspect, it is easy for police to infringe on citizens’ rights to film in public, walk where they please, or even enjoy a sitting on a bench on public property.
A new documentary titled “What Happened In Vegas” was born out of such infringements. Director Ramsey Denison was assaulted and arrested after he called 911 to report an out-of-control police officer. Instead of being hailed as a concerned citizen looking out for the civil rights of others, he was quickly marked as a suspect and taken to jail.
It was only after that experience that Denison realized there was a systemic problem with Metro PD infringing on citizens’ rights and decided to detail what he sess as an out of control police department.
Since Martinez’s arrest he says he has been further harassed, not only by the FBI, but also by the counter-terrorism unit inside Metro PD. When asked why the government thinks he is a threat, Martinez said he feels it is because he has refused to get a driver’s license, and has produced many YouTube videos encouraging others to follow his example.
Martinez also said he gets targeted because he uses court case law in his videos, and encourages citizens to know their rights and to get educated. Even with being an advocate for the Constitution, he has been labeled a “sovereign citizen,” but says nothing could be further from the truth. Martinez told TFTP he was born on an Air Force base to a very patriotic family, and his dad was a member of the Air Force.
“My main objection is government overreach and officials operating outside the confines of the Constitution…I believe we should keep our government in check,” Martinez said, adding the harassment he’s received has even followed him to his workplace.
Martinez described the second time he has been arrested in the last few months:
“They arrested me for possession of a concealed firearm. I was at the door. I’m a door host at a nightclub. I was checking ID’s at the door and was approached by three plains clothes men who came to me and asked me for a Sheriff’s Card (another permit he objects to…something Martinez calls an “adult work permit”). At first, I didn’t know who they were…”
Martinez said one of the officers pretended to be interested in his plainly visible gun—he carries openly per Nevada law—but then asked if he had a concealed carry permit. Martinez said he was carrying openly and he didn’t need one. At that point, he was arrested for “possession of a concealed firearm,” which is a felony in Nevada.
This is the type of treatment Martinez said he now has to live with, for speaking out and attempting to enter a courthouse without a valid ID. He said because he has been labeled as a “sovereign citizen,” he is now now one of the government’s targets, and he is facing felony charges as a result.
Martinez said that in his mind, the state of Nevada has a serious problem with permitting. “To be a cashier at a 7-Eleven you need four different forms of identification—a Sheriff’s Card, a TAM card (alcohol education certification), a health card (food handler’s card), and a regular form of identification,” He said.
“Permits, licensing, that’s my beef with the system,” Martinez said. Now he has to go to court to prove he is no danger to society and that because he was legally open-carrying his firearm, he should not be convicted of as a felon who would not longer have the right to keep and bear arms.