Military Officers Unlawfully Threaten to Arrest Man for Recording Base

Andrew Meyer

Military Officers Unlawfully Threaten to Arrest Man for Recording Base from Public Sidewalk

“Ever wonder what would happen when you get confronted by MP’s [military police] and military investigation unit outside of the base and don’t say much to them?”

That question, posed by the owner of the YouTube channel Bunny Boots Ink, was answered recently outside Elmendorf-Richardson Joint Base in Anchorage. A videographer set his camera up on a public sidewalk in front of a fighter jet propped outside the base, apparently there to draw attention, but was confronted almost immediately with questioning from air force personnel.

Three different military men in plainclothes from “Air Force special investigations” asked to see the man’s identification and question why he was talking pictures in public.

Each “investigator” was met with the same response; silence; as the videographer continued recording the jet on display, the outside of the base and the men questioning him.

One man stood in front of his camera lens, ordering him to get the “camera out of my face.”

Finally, a fourth officer, the first in uniform, a man named Meyer (thankfully, no relation), came on the scene, claiming that he needed to verify what the man was taking pictures of, and eventually threatening to “confiscate your camera, put you under apprehension, and take you down to the police station.”

When the uniformed officer’s threats were also met with silence and a terse answer of “exercise my 5th amendment right,” by the videographer, the military men stood around until a local police officer arrived.

The officer warned the videographer that he would be arrested if he trespassed on to the base, which he gave no indication of doing, but also confirmed that recording from a sidewalk is legal.

However, he repeatedly mentioned that people are nervous because of the then-upcoming anniversary of 9/11, as if that excused the military men’s unlawful threats and harassment.

When the police officer left and the videographer decided he had finished his First Amendment audit, he walked down the sidewalk and eventually into the woods, where he was followed by two of the military men who had questioned him.

The videographer was recently cited for video recording in the lobby of a federal building, despite a 2010 settlement that stated it is legal for him to do so. The videographer has set up a legal defense fund and answered questions on reddit.

For news tips on aerial photography and drones, contact Andrew Meyer, PINAC’s staff writer covering UAV photography, the First Amendment, and more. Follow him on twitter @theandrewmeyer.


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