The State of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has ignored repeated queries regarding what is clearly a violent criminal assault by a Michigan State officer against a citizen who was doing nothing but videotaping in a public park. A large version photograph of the unnamed officer is here. If anyone knows his name, contact us.
The video was featured in the article Incredible video shows rogue cops go crazy over Constitutionalist videographer in late December. Less than a month later, the video has received over 10,170 views and was also featured on Rense.com, FreedomsPhoenix, FederalJack, and many others.
The video, titled You are invading my space, I will arrest you! has been posted on youtube several times and has been removed, allegedly for purported 'privacy' reasons at the request of either the assailant or his employer, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment. It receives thousands of views every time it's posted. Apparently, someone in Michigan government does not want the ugly truth to see the light of day.
However, there is an even larger issue at stake here. The man who took the video is a peaceful man named Steve who is a libertarian activist and government watchdog. Steve documents all sorts of government waste and abuse in his home area. Steve called the police at the time of the assault but incredibly, they refused to do anything to the officer, and even refused to take a report. Steve has never been told the offending officer's name. I wrote to the Michigan Attorney General and the Michigan DNR December 22nd asking a number of specific questions about this video, the assault and official protocol as to how the state handles such cases. I received no response from either agency, so two weeks later on January 3rd I sent a follow up. A few ahours after sending that message, Steve received a notice from youtube; a 'privacy complaint' about the video, despite the fact it shows nothing more than an out of control jackboot assaulting an innocent citizen:
Date: Mon, Jan 3, 2011 at 5:36 PM- Dear savemyrepublic,This is to notify you that we have received a privacy complaint from an
individual regarding your content: The information reported as violating privacy is at 0:02. We would like to give you an opportunity to remove or edit the private information within the content reported. You have 48 hours to take action on the complaint... We're committed to protecting our users and hope you understand the importance of respecting others' privacy. When uploading videos in the future, please remember not to post someone else's image or personal information without their consent. Personal information includes, but is not limited to, Social Security number, National Identification number, bank account number or contact information (e.g. home address, email address). For more information, please review our Privacy Guidelines. Regards, The YouTube Team
On his personal website, Bill Schutte is pictured in one photo happily standing next to a uniformed police officer. It is not known if the photographer of that picture was assaulted or threatened with arrest like Steve was. Below is a copy of both e-mail queries I sent to the Michigan Attorney General and DNR. The Michigan Attorney General phone number is (517) 373-1110.
From: Martin Hill
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: DNS Complaint from Michigan citizen videographer
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2010
Hello, my name is Martin Hill and I am a freelace political writer. I recently became aware of the story of a Michigan man who had a very unpleasant encounter with a 'Michigan Conservation Officer'. This letter is addressed to the Michigan Attorney General's office and the DNR. (Since there is no additional press or general e-mail contact listed for Michigan DNR on their webpage www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10773-24871--,00.html, I have sent this to the only address listed, MDNR-E-License@michigan.gov. If that recipeint could kindly forward this message along to the proper supervisor or DNR department, it would be appreciated.)
This case involves a man who is a citzen of Michigan and was exercising his right to film in a public place. The man is a member of a Michigan government watchdog group, which stresses government waste and Constitutional rights. The man was accosted by a very agressive unnamed officer, who refused several times to identify himself to the videographer. Worse yet, the man was clearly assaulted by the officer, who then said he would fabricate additional charges against the man. The man, Steve, called the local sheriff to file a complaint against the DNR officer when the assualt occurred, but they refused to take a report.
Why would law enforcement refuse to take an assault report from a complaintant, particularly when he has video evidence of the assault? Is there favoritism or corruption going on in the local police department? Steve later called the DNR to file a complaint. They did not repsond at all. After three phone calls over two weeks, Steve left information on how the DNR supervisors can view his video of the assault, which he had posted on the internet, as is his God-given Constitutional right. DNR finally replied only to demand Steve remove the video from the internet.
To my knowledge, DNR refused to allow complaintant to file an official written complaint. This is illegal. Surely there is a process for citizens to file an official complaint.
Is the supervisory staff at Michigan DNR instructed, per policy, that they can demand citizens 1st Amendment rights be violated? What authority did DNR purportedly have in demanding that the citizen remove his video of their officer from the internet? Are they under the clearly false impression that it is somehow ''illegal to film police" in Michigan, or that it is illegal to film in a public park? Perhapds the DNR is not aware, but surely the Michigan Attorney General is aware that filming public servants in public is not and has never been illegal. Government not only has no right to insist the video be removed, but it is actually a violation of Steve's civil rights that they demanded it, under the color of authority.
I look forward to your official response as I will be covering this story and following up on all developments. As you may know, there have been numerous recent federal court rulings affirming the public's right to film law enforcement in public. Also, there have been numerous civil lawsuit payouts and settlements on this issue, most recently when the Dept. Homeland Security settled such a case and paid monetary damages to a libertarian activist who was represented by the ACLU.
The video in this case is available here: You are invading my space,I will arrest you!
Also, it is suspected that Michigan DNS has contacted youtube corporation to have the video removed twice already. Can you verify whether or not that is true, and if so, under what authority is the Michigan government contacting a website to demand the video , to which they retain no ownership, be removed?
If you would also forward this letter to your media inquiry departments, it would be appreciated. A prompt reply would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Martin Hill JMJ
January 3, 2011
Hello. It has been two weeks since my original letter (bellow) and I have not received a response from either the Michigan Attorney general or the Michigan DNR. Are these two publicly listed e-mail recipients incorrect e-mail addresses? If not, could I possibly recieve acknowledgement of my message? Thank you