Citizen Journalist Riles DFW Government Agencies and Contractor With "First Amendment Fridays"

Armed with at least his press pass and his smartphone camera, Frisco resident Brett Sanders is staging a one-man crusade for the Bill of Rights.

For each of the last three Fridays, Sanders, who says he is also involved in the Open Carry movement, has filmed a different entity from public sidewalks. July 11 it was federal contractor Raytheon. July 18 it was the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region VI office. Last week he took to the area outside the Drug Enforcement Administration's Dallas office. In each instance Sanders is told to stop filming and a confrontation of varying level of intensity ensues.

"My main goal is to empower citizens that maybe did not know that they have a right to film in public and maybe did not know that they have a right to refuse to ID themselves if they're not committing a crime," Sanders says.

As you can see in the DEA video -- included in full below -- Sanders methods are confrontational. He harangues the DEA representatives who come out to tell him to stop filming about the failure of the war on drugs and uses some coarse language. At no point are the DEA representatives able to tell Sanders why he should stop filming, however.

Sanders has no end product in mind for the videos, but that isn't the point. He's trying to start a conversation about the First Amendment and the right to film in public spaces, he says.

If agencies don't want to be a part of what Sanders is doing, there's an easy solution.

"If the DEA or any public official or any government entity that doesn't want to create a news story, their best bet is to maybe just politely wave, maybe ask what I'm doing and leave me alone," he says.

Sanders plans to continue "First Amendment Fridays" for the foreseeable future.

The DEA did not respond to a request for comment.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young