Addison Cop Detains Photography Activist Brett Sanders
Guns, cameras, cops and trolls do not mix well.
Update: After this story was posted, the Addison Police Department sent us this additional statement on its officer's action: "The video posted on YouTube does not show that the man being questioned is wearing a back pack and carrying a revolver. His attempt to activate his cell phone raised the possibility he could trigger an explosive device or call others to escalate the situation. Police officers are acutely aware that individual officers, as well as police headquarters buildings, have been the subject of violent attacks including one this month in Dallas.
"It is the individual’s continued attempt to use his cell phone, despite the officer’s lawful instructions not to do so, not his videotaping of police headquarters that led to his being handcuffed.
"For the safety of all involved we hope that citizens will cooperate with police officers and if they have a concern or complaint will do so through proper channels.
Original story: It's probably fair to call Brett Sanders, like Kory Watkins, a provocateur — the nice word for troll — scheming to get police to act in a way that can go viral on YouTube. But whereas Watkins rushes to traffic stops and the like to aggressively videotape officers in action, Sanders' lets the cops come to him. His technique is to stand on a sidewalk and conspicuously film police stations, federal buildings and the like. Though this would be an incredibly stupid and obvious way to case a potential target (a savvy terrorist could just look at the building on Google Maps). Sanders' presence invariably draws a cop or two, just to be sure. Especially when he's wearing a holstered black-powder pistol on his hip, as he was in Addison the other day, and especially in the same month that a guy dramatically shot up Dallas police headquarters.
So far so good. Nothing wrong with police asking an armed, camera-wielding citizen a few questions. But the response of Addison police, which Sanders recorded above, is a textbook case of wrongness. For one, Sanders, while his presence and refusal to proffer his driver's license or answer questions is no doubt irritating, hasn't done anything illegal — certainly nothing to justify him being forced to the ground and handcuffed, as appears to happen. Yelling at and manhandling someone for taking pictures is not OK. Second, this kind of stuff is what people like Sanders feed on. If you just ignore him, he'll go someplace else. Lastly — and this is key — this sort of treatment gives us grudging respect for Sanders and his "First Amendment audits," which is unfortunate.
So far, Addison police aren't saying much, releasing a prepared statement through a spokesperson:
Our department is aware of the incident shown in a recent YouTube video that took place across the street from police headquarters. Department policy is that the video will be reviewed by the senior command staff. Further information may be available following that process.
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