Milwaukee, WI — YouTuber, superrick568 was practicing his First Amendment right earlier this month when he came across Officer Lentz with the Milwaukee police department.
Rick noted on his YouTube channel that he’d been out for less than an hour and had filmed this officer and his partner three times during that time. He said, “there were so many stops within a 2-mile radius that I couldn’t keep up. The third time got to him, and he demanded my I.D.”
When officer Lentz gets out of the vehicle, it looked like he was about to assault the man filming.
“Give me your ID!” demands Lentz, to which Rick respectfully declined.
“Unless I’m doing something wrong, I’m not giving you my ID,” replies Rick.
“Right now, you are doing something wrong,” says Lentz, lying through his teeth. “I just asked you for your identification. I need to know who you are, because you are sitting out here filming us.”
It has been clearly established that all Americans have the right to record the police. For an officer of the law to remain willingly ignorant of this precedent is at best, dereliction of duty, and at worst, unlawful deprivation of rights. Either way, Lentz was in the wrong.
In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, the Supreme Court upheld state laws requiring citizens to reveal their identity when officers have reasonable suspicion to believe criminal activity may be taking place. Commonly known as “stop-and-identify” statutes, these laws permit police to arrest criminal suspects who refuse to identify themselves.
As of 2014, 24 states have stop-and-identify laws, and Wisconsin is one of those states. However, according to the state law, Lentz had no reason to stop Rick as filming the police is not reasonable suspicion.
968.24 Temporary questioning without arrest. After having identified himself or herself as a law enforcement officer, a law enforcement officer may stop a person in a public place for a reasonable period of time when the officer reasonably suspects that such person is committing, is about to commit or has committed a crime, and may demand the name and address of the person and an explanation of the person’s conduct. Such detention and temporary questioning shall be conducted in the vicinity where the person was stopped.
After verbal lashing from Lentz, Rick asks for the officer’s supervisor. After a long, somewhat hilarious, and unnecessary interaction, Lentz’ supervisor shows up and sets the record straight. Rick had done nothing wrong and there was no need for this entire stop.
While many may say that Rick should’ve simply shown his ID and gone on his way — they are missing the point entirely. Some will assert that if you are doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide. However, those people couldn’t be more wrong.
At night, do you close your blinds or curtains in your home because you are doing something wrong?
It is important that people like Rick assert these rights, or one day, all of our philosophical ‘curtains’ will be forced open 24 hours a day.