Within a minute of recording a Federal Reserve building in Jacksonville, Jeff Gray was confronted by Federal agents and asked for identification.
Lieutenant Andrew Taylor and Sergeant McGrath surrounded Gray as Taylor asked “What was the purpose of the pictures?” and “Who are you?”
After Gray told the agents that he was just taking pictures in public, Taylor said, “We’re gonna call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to come talk to you.” Taylor admitted that taking pictures is perfectly legal, but claimed a need to “be vigilant.”
Gray was not being detained and walked away to his vehicle. As he drove away, Gray noticed he was being followed by a car from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, who likely ran his plate through the Driver and Vehicle Information Database (DAVID) system without cause, an illegal act which Florida police have committed nearly 300 times against Gray.
JSO’s surveillance of a photographer for taking pictures in public comes on the heels of revelations uncovered by a public records request made by Gray for documents relating to an incident where Gray was nearly the second PINAC reporter arrested in two days at the Jacksonville airport.
In an email recovered by public records request, JSO Lieutenant Shawn McCormick speculated that Gray was, “baiting them for possible lawsuits,” and claimed “He is basically inciting the Officers.”
In a series of emails, Chuck White, Director of Seaport Security & Emergency Preparedness at JAXPORT, asked, “What can we do to mitigate the ‘Honor Your Oath’ individuals from getting in our ACC Parking Lot and shooting our Gate?” White also remarked, “We choose our contract security service first and foremost based on cost, and I believe we are almost getting what we pay for,” when asked to comment on the officers Gray encountered. In response, John Schnippert, JAXPORT Security Operations Manager, said
“Here is the final draft of the signage that will be placed at our front gates. I believe this will meet state statute requirements for Unlawful Entry (Conspiracy) charges and trespassing. We intend to post at all inbound gate entrances to take out the guess work if the S/O gave a verbal warning.”
Photos of Gray and a description of his vehicle were also passed around by these public servants, who are using their publicly paid-for time to find a way to arrest a photographer for taking photos in public.