Man Confronted by Police for Filming Near Airport (Video)

| by Michael Allen

A reporter shooting video and holding a sign on the property of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) was recently confronted by police. reporter Jeff Gray was shooting a video (below) outside the Jacksonville, Fla., airport when he was confronted by JAA police.

In the video, Officer Jennifer Cruz tells Gray that he is on private property, but Gray insists he is standing on public property. Officer Cruz asks Gray for his I.D., which he doesn't provide. Officer Cruz then tells him he could be arrested for trespassing.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you know this is not private property,” Gray replies.

Moments later, another police officer, Lieutenant Stevens, arrives and tells Gray to get off the private property.

“It doesn’t matter, it’s private property, it’s already been to the Supreme Court, it's not a First Amendment venue,” stated Lieutenant Stevens.

Lieutenant Stevens added that the JAA is an “independent authority.”

However, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority website states:

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority, an independent government agency created by the Florida legislature, operates primarily as a landlord, managing the upkeep, improvement and expansion of its facilities and coordinating their use by private companies.

JAA owns the runways, hangars, passenger terminal building, airport grounds and road connections to the public highway system. JAA provides and maintains the terminals and their equipment and manages the overall use of the facilities.

In 2008, the Florida Supreme Court stated in a ruling of the case Jackson-Shaw Company v. Jacksonville Aviation Authority:

The JAA is [a] public body, established by Florida law to develop and administer public airports in Jacksonville, Florida. It is a political subdivision of the state of Florida and it has responsibility for the planning, management and oversight of four airports located in Duval County, including the Jacksonville International Airport ("JIA") and three smaller air fields, as well as management of a considerable portfolio of undeveloped land.

JAA Community Relations Administrator Debbie Jones later told that the land in question is private.

However, Florida attorney Michael Pancier told that airport terminals are not usually considered free speech areas, but public streets are.