Howdy folks. How’s everybody doing? I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Mine could have better if it had not been for a disturbing letter I received from the Chief of police for the Santa Maria Police Department.
For those of you who follow my videos on my Nasty Nathanial YouTube channel, you will know that I have had some very unpleasant encounters with officers of the Santa Maria Police Department, a city located in Santa Barbara County on California’s beautiful Central Coast. The most recent encounter occurred when I was illegal detained and searched while conducting a First Amendment Audit of the City Ranger Station. But for those of you who are not familiar, let me give you a little bit of history.
My troubles with the Santa Maria Police Department started back in January when I decided to conduct a First Amendment Audit of the Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall facility in the city of Santa Maria. It didn’t take long before the first Santa Maria police patrol unit arrived on the scene. I was greeted by a young female officer who asked to see my identification. Meet Officer Marques. When I declined to provide Officer Marques with my identification, she proceeded to inform me that she had “a right” to see my ID and that I was required by law to provide her with my identification. Still I refused.
After going back and forth with Officer Marques over my refusal to hand over my ID I requested that supervisor be present. In the meantime more and more units are arriving on the scene. My filming must have been the only thing going on in Santa Maria that day.
Eventually a supervisor arrives. Meet Sergeant Lara. But instead of correcting his officer and apologizing to me, Sergeant Lara had an attitude right from the start. He obviously didn’t like the fact that I was filming him. But despite being on camera Sergeant Lara still chose to behave like a tyrant. He immediately took the side of Officer Marques insisting that she was correct and that she had right to see my ID. When I tried to explain to this ignoramus that an individual practicing photography out in public is not reasonable suspicion of a crime, he would just interrupt me, and continue his rant about how I needed to hand over my ID. Despite my being bullied by this tyrannical police sergeant, I continued to stand my ground and refused to identify myself.
In the end Sergeant Lara was proven to be wrong and I was finally free to go about my business. But not before Sergeant Lara explained to me that the officers were there for the safety of the children inside of the Juvenile Hall. Hum? First it’s about my ID, and now it’s about safety of the children who are locked up.
Santa Maria’s then Chief of police, Ralph Martin, would conclude that his officers did not violate department policy or the law.
Now you would think that after this incident, and all of the attention it got, the Santa Maria Police Department would have learned their lesson concerning the rights of individuals to practice photography in public. But that was not the case. Four months later I would have my rights violated once again by officers of this department.
This incident occurred last May during a First Amendment Audit of the Santa Maria City Ranger station. It was just outside of the main gate that officers of the Santa Maria Police Department maid contact with me. Meet Officers Uhl and Jackson. While Officer Jackson seemed to be civil, it was Officer Uhl who addressed me by name and brought up my having a history of “stalking” police officers in the nearby city of Pismo Beach. He used this as a justification to conduct an illegal search which he claimed he had “the right” to do.
Officers Uhl and Jackson grabbed a hold of me and began going through my backpack despite the fact that I clearly stated that I did not consent to a search. At one point Officer Uhl threatened to arrest me for resisting because I was verbally opposing this illegal search.
Officer Jackson would later try to claim that he and his partner were only doing a “pat down”. However, shortly before this illegal search began, it was Officer Uhl whom claimed that they had “the right” to search me. Officer Uhl then proceeded to go into my backpack. In the video you can clearly hear him mention items that were inside of my backpack. If this was nothing more than a simple pat down, then how did Officer Uhl know what was inside of my backpack? The answer is simple. This was not a simple pat down. This was an ILLEGAL SEARCH.
Just as I had done at the Juvenile Hall four months earlier, I requested to speak with a supervisor. Meet Sergeant Streker. But just like Sergeant Lara, Sergeant Streker was of no help. He sided with Officers Uhl and Jackson by saying that they were doing their jobs by protecting the community. Protecting the community? From who? A guy with a camera? How about reprimanding Officers Uhl and Jackson for failing to honor the oath they took to serve and protect opposed to violating citizens rights as they had done with me? That sounds reasonable to me.
Despite it being clearly obvious from my video that Officer’s Uhl and Jackson had violated my rights, Santa Maria’s new Chief of police, Phil Hansen, concluded that the officers did not violate the law or department policy. Hum? These two officers illegally detained and searched me without my consent for doing nothing more than filming in a public space and the Chief Of Police seems to think that is acceptable. So what is next? Am I going to get beaten within’ an inch of my life by Santa Maria police officers and a spineless Chief Hansen will conclude that his officers did not violate department policy or the law?
And this is what this article is really about. The Santa Maria Police Department’s refusal to hold their officers accountable when they screw up. Two different Chief’s have refused to take any kind of action towards officers who clearly had a disregard towards my rights as a free citizen. So I ask this question. What kind of message does this send to a tyrannical police officer like this Uhl? That it is ok for him to ignore the law and disregard the rights of citizens like me? Not only Officer Uhl, but police officers in general. What is going to happen next? Am I going to be physically attacked and have my head slammed into the concrete by Santa Maria police officers because they know they can get away with it because their Chief is too much of a coward to take action?