An Arizona cop who was staking out a citizen journalist after he was released from jail for recording outside of an air force base offered him a bite of his cheeseburger when the videographer approached him with his camera to engage in some friendly banter.
But Glendale Police Lieutenant Robert Jones reneged on his offer to share his ground round after the video activist Silent Citizen took him up on it.
The exchange took place after the videographer had been approached by Glendale Police Chief Rick St. John outside the police department, inquiring why he was recording, but also assuring he had the right to record.
To his credit, Jones did not tell Silent Citizen to stop recording or to step away from his car as many cops would have done.
In fact, several Glendale cops who were walking out of the police station greeted Silent Citizen in a cheerful manner, so they obviously have received the memo that photography is not a crime.
Unfortunately, a security guard working inside the Glendale courthouse did not receive the memo.
The guard, who was wearing a uniform stating he worked for CBI Security, stepped outside the courthouse to confront Silent Citizen for recording from a public sidewalk.
“You can’t record this building,” the guard tells him. “Stop recording me, man.”
But Silent Citizen remained silent and the guard walked back inside.
But Silent Citizen didn’t let his arrest curb his enthusiasm for exercising his First Amendment-protected activities.
After being released from the hoosegow, he began recording outside of the city jail which was when he was approached by the chief and assistant chief, which you can see in the first video below.
Towards the end of that video, Silent Citizen notices Jones sitting in his unmarked car keeping an eye on him.
When Silent Citizen approached him, the cop drove off, apparently making his way through a drive-thru because he returned to surveilling Silent Citizen while munching on a burger.
Silent Citizen says Jones had been staking him out for more than an hour before he approached the curious cop again.
“Is there something I can help you with, sir?” Jones asks after rolling down his window.
“I’m just watching you eat.”
“OK, Thank You,” the lieutenant quips. “You want some?”
“Sure, I’ll take a bite.”
“Are you hungry? Right there’s a burger shop,” Jones tells Silent Citizen, apparently copping out on his offer.
“We like to go eat there.”
“I just got out of jail,” Silent Citizen explains. “All they had was those bean and cheese burritos in there.”
“What’d you go to jail for?” asks Jones.
“That’s my business.”
“Just making conversation,” the lieutenant tells a whopper.
“Right,” replies Silent Citizen before asking his own questions.
“What’d you get to eat there?”
“Special from McDonald’s and Burger King and Jack in the Box,” Jones sarcastically replies with three answers. “A cheap man’s meal. $2.99 Fries, soda and a drink. You know?”
“Lieutenant Robert Jones,” Silent Citizen says, reading the officer’s badge.
“Yep, and what’s your name?”
“You may refer to me as Silent Citizen.”
“Are you making a documentary on police?”
“Something like that. Feel free to check out my youtube channel. You’ll be on there.”
“For what? What are we doing? Your youtube channel is labeled silent citizen?”
“How long have you had it?”
“Well, a couple months now. We do First Amendment audits,” Silent Citizen explains.
“What’s a First Amendment audit?”
“[You] exercise your First Amendment right to film, and see whether or not you get hassled for it.””
“Oh, you go to police stations and different buildings and you see if the police will come and talk to you. So you can go to like, uh, let’s say, go to a water facility or a power plant and walk around and see if someone comes up to talk to you.”
“Or you can go to the Luke Air Force base and get arrested,” Silent Citizen tells Jones, who obviously knew exactly what he’d been arrested for.
“Well . . . you probably walk on to a military installation without permission.”
“Public sidewalk filming.”
“But you realize why they might be a little concerned with their fighter jets there and high intelligence and they might be concerned about video taping.”
“From filming from a public sidewalk?”
“But they actually arrested you at Luke,” Jones says, pretending to be surprised.
“They’re some nice guys. Those are the guys that take care of us. I was actually meeting with them yesterday. Nice guys.”
“Are you from Arizona?”
Silent Citizen replies with silence.
“I’m just wondering because you don’t have our tan yet. You’re from somewhere else. You haven’t been here too long.
“Anyway, I have to finish my lunch, drive around and meet some people. You’re welcome to come in and join us.”
“You going to take me for a ride along?”
“No, that’s no good,” Jones responds before bidding Silent Citizen farewell. “Anyway, you have a good day.”