Lowndes County Sheriff Deputy enforces First Amendment

Lowndes County, an oasis of constitutional rights. Yes, really. Here’s video evidence. This kind of good news could do more to attract businesses here than many things the local powers that be are doing.

Carlos Miller wrote for Photography is Not a Crime 25 June 2014, Georgia Deputy Surprises us all by Respecting Constitution,

It started off with a federal protective service officer pulling up to Jeff Gray in a patrol car for taking pictures from a public sidewalk outside the Moody Air Force Base in Georgia Monday.

Gray told the officer that he was photographing the railroad. But the cop had his doubts and accused him of photographing the entrance to the base — as if it would make any difference within the scopes of the law — and decided to call the local sheriff for backup.

When Gray tried to walk away, the cop informed he was being detained.

When Gray asked for his name and badge number, the cop informed Gray he was free to leave.

But naturally, it couldn’t end there.

Within minutes, a Lowndes County sheriff’s SUV pulled up and out stepped a burly deputy.

Staff Sgt. Guthrie extended his hand, introducing himself by name, asking for his side of the story.

Gray explained he was only taking pictures of airplanes, adding “they don’t like it very much.”

And then the sergeant took us all by surprise:

“They need to go back and read the Constitution,” I believe,” the sergeant responded.

“I’m not angry at you, I’m not upset at you, and you’re not doing anything illegal as far as I’m concerned,” he said

“They get a little excited, but as I said, you’re in a public access area.”

I have also had an experience with a Lowndes County deputy informing other authorities who should have already known that videoing is not a crime. That other deputy explained the Georgia Open Meetings Act when somebody called him to try to get him to stop me videoing an open meeting.

Maybe our Sheriff’s office is familiar with the Nydia Tysdale case, in which she was thrown out of a Cumming City Council meeting for videoing, and invited back after Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens stepped in to ensure that the state open meetings act was enforced. That Act says in: O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1-c,

Visual, sound, and visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted.

Maybe the Lowndes County Sheriff’s office is familiar with the two U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rulings, which the Supreme Court has declined to review, saying that citizens can record police and all other elected and appointed officials on the job:

Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting ‘the free discussion of governmental affairs.’

So, like PINAC says, Sheriff Chris Prine’s department seems to be practicing what it preaches on its website, including:

“Our fundamental duties are to serve humanity; to safeguard the lives and properties of our citizens; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence; and to respect the constitutional right of all persons to liberty, equality, and justice. To attain this, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office enforces the law in a fair and impartial manner, recognizing both the statutory and judicial limits of our authority and the constitutional rights of all persons.”

And PINAC’s video of SSGT Guthrie has been noticed, everywhere from normally alarmist Alex Jones’ InfoWars.com to Hyannis News way up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Before It’s News, which has a picture of SSGT Guthrie with his hand ready to shake yours, and an invitation:

Please watch video below, and share it with everyone you know.


6 thoughts on “Lowndes County Sheriff Deputy enforces First Amendment

  1. Susan

    This is awesome! I worked many of animal cruelty calls with Robert and he is a great deputy! I wouldn’t have expected anything less from him! He is what everyone of them should be! :)

  2. Shane Borchardt

    Living in Tampa I have the honor of living next to a military base and yes they do get a bit out of control. But my hat off to SSGT Guthrie who I believe is one of the best police officers Ive had the pleasure of watching the video and believe this video should be shown on prime time tv. I feel all who watch this video will have a new found respect for law enforcement. For not all who get stopped are bad people and not all policemen are jerks.

  3. JoAnn

    Don’t let this cop fool you…If the camera was not running he’d have been on you like Donky Kong!! He was trying to arrest my son( when he(Guthrie) worked for Nashville Police Department) because him and a friend were standing near the road at a stop sign. He puts both boys in the back of his car and brings my son to my house. He tries to talk to me about my son standing around….I told him to let my son out of the car because he had broken no law. Then Guthrie gets mad because I was fussing at him and takes my son down to the police department. I had to stop cooking supper to go pick him up from the police station because (he couldn’t book my 14 year old on anything) I made him mad and he was going to punish me!!!

  4. Rebecca

    Another reason I appreciate Lowndes County Sherrifs Department .
    With all of the public negativity towards the fairness of police officers towards citizens. I praise this officer for upholding what is right , and also doing it in a kind manner. Thank you !

  5. The dude

    Per 18 U.S. Code § 795 – It is unlawful to photograph any defense installation without approval of commanding officer.

  6. John S. Quarterman Post author

    That dude left out the rest of that law:

    (a) Whenever, in the interests of national defense, the President defines certain vital military and naval installations or equipment as requiring protection against the general dissemination of information relative thereto, it shall be unlawful to make any photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map, or graphical representation of such vital military and naval installations or equipment without first obtaining permission of the commanding officer of the military or naval post, camp, or station, or naval vessels, military and naval aircraft, and any separate military or naval command concerned, or higher authority, and promptly submitting the product obtained to such commanding officer or higher authority for censorship or such other action as he may deem necessary.

    (b) Whoever violates this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

    Moody AFB is a training base, as everybody around here knows, including both the military police and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department.

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