Homeland Security cops detained a man for video recording outside a National Security Agency building in Texas, telling him it was illegal to record the building, even though it is clearly visible from the side of a busy street.
It started with one Homeland Security officer pulling up in his vehicle, stepping out and demanding to know what he was recording and insisting on seeing his identification.
But the man, who only provided his first name as Carlos, refused to provide his identification on the basis that there was no probable cause to detain him.
But the Homeland Security cop persisted.
“If you’re surveilling a government facility, yes, I have a right to detain you, yes, I can ask you for your identification, and yes, you are going to provide that to me,” he said.
And yes, he was proven wrong.
Within three minutes into the video, the Homeland Security cop, who at that point was joined by a San Antonio cop demanding identification, had no choice but to let him go.
The man then asked for the officer’s name and badge number, telling him there was a law that required him to provide that information.
However, that is a common misconception. There is no law that states officers must provide identification, at least not federally or in Texas.
But most law enforcement agencies have policies that require officers to identify themselves by name and badge number when asked, a policy that is commonly violated.
The incident took place last month in San Antonio but was posted to Youtube this week.
According to the Youtube description:
DHS “see something say something” program unfairly targets people for many reasons including photography. On (02/19/15) I was illegally stopped by NSA & San Antonio PD for what NSA claims illegally taking a photo of the NSA building & trespassing on federal property while on a public sidewalk. & yes I was nervous.
My father and many others have served this country for our freedom, not to revoke our rights & submit to random police interrogations.
After his interaction with the first cop, Carlos walked away, continuing his way down the sidewalk, when he was eventually stopped by another Homeland Security cop who pulled up in his vehicle.
That cop had obviously communicated with the first cop, so he tried to come up with another made-up law to harass him, accusing him of having stepped on the small strip of grass between the sidewalk and the fence that was topped with barbed wire – an area that is easily accessible by the public and is not marked with no trespassing signs.
“I was on the sidewalk, I have video,” Carlos told him, not that stepping on the grass would have been enough probable cause to detain him.
“We have video too. I saw you also on the grass, provide your ID now, sir,” the cop responded.
The DHS cop also told him to turn off his camera, which, of course, is an unlawful order.
When Carlos asserted his right to record as well as refuse to provide his identification, the Homeland Security cop lost interest and walked back to his car.
That was when the first Homeland Security cop returned, parking his vehicle in a left turn lane across the street and walking over, telling him “it is against the law to film protective property.”
“This is not protective, this is public property,” Carlos responded, reminding the cop that he was standing on a public sidewalk.
“The driveways are, the grass is, there are certain points, so once you do that, I will stop you again,” the cop threatened, telling him he was not allowed to point his camera in the direction of the NSA building.
“I’m not trying to harass you, I’m not trying to do nothing, I’m just trying to do my job, which is to protect this,” the cop told him.
“It’s your job to protect the Constitution,” Carlos told him.
But most of these guys wouldn’t know the Constitution if it bit them in the ass.