Arizona resident Doug Hester was intrigued by the articles I’ve been writing about photographers getting harassed at the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse in Phoenix, so he grabbed a video camera and decided to check it out for himself Monday morning.

The man who operates The Northern Muckraker ended up getting harassed by federal security guards.

With the video camera running, two guards approached him and demanded to know if he was videotaping the building or as one of them put it,  “my building.”

Here is sample of the exchange that took place. The action begins at 2:15 into the video.

Hester: I’m free to go, correct?

Guard 1: Not yet.

Hester: Am I being detained?

Guard 1: Are you videotaping my building?

Hester: Am I free to leave?

Guard 1: You’re are free to leave, go …  but if I catch you videotaping the building again you will be arrested by the Phoenix Police Department.

Hester: On what charge, sir?

Guard 1: On charge of … we’ll talk to the Phoenix Police Department about it.

Guard 2: You’re not supposed to videotape any federal court building.

Hester: What law?

Guard 2: National Security Act.

Guard 1: Oklahoma City, that’s why.

Guard 2: It all comes down to Homeland Security and all that.

Guard 1: If you want to talk to our Homeland Security people, we can arrange that right now and we will detain you.

In case you’re interested, the only National Security Act ever enacted in the United States was in 1947 and doesn’t appear to mention anything remotely close about not being allowed to videotape federal buildings.


I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar, which helps pay for the thousands of dollars I’ve acrued in debt since my arrest. To keep updated on the latest articles, join my networks at Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed.