An armed military cop recently confronted a man for filming the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in Starke, Florida, from a public road.
Jeff Gray claims he was doing a "First Amendment audit" of the military base from State Road 16 when a military police officer approached him, notes PhotographyisNotaCrime.com, a website that employs Gray as an editor.
Gray filmed the military officer who appeared to have his hand on his gun at one point in the video (below).
“Go ahead and turn around for me sir,” stated Ruiz.
“Don’t put your hands on your gun, are you kidding me?” replied Gray. “I’m not turning around.”
Ruiz later told Gray that wanted to pat him down "for my safety."
“No, I don’t consent to any searches," countered Gray. "I don’t consent to any pat downs, please relax."
"You can’t be taking pictures of a military installation,” said Ruiz.
At one point, Ruiz spoke into his military radio, “It looks like we have a sovereign citizen here taking photographs.”
However, Gray insisted that he was not a "sovereign citizen," but rather a citizen taking pictures.
Eventually Ruiz's commanding officer, Major Dillard, arrived on the scene and appeared to take Gray's side after Gray identified himself as part of the "Oath Keepers," a nationwide group that is made up of politicians, veterans, police and U.S. servicemen.
“I’m an Oath Keeper also,” Major Dillard told Gray. “These guys work for me, if there’s anything not above board going on here, I want to be the first one to know about it.”
Earlier this year, two journalists from The Blade were detained and had their camera equipment confiscated by the U.S. military after they took pictures of a General Dynamics (military contractor) power plant in Lima, Ohio.
“I’m personally shocked by this incident,” said John Robinson Block, The Blade’s publisher and editor-in-chief. “I believe our people were totally in the right.”
However, according to United States Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 37, Sec. 795:
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.