Howdy folks. On February 6, 2018 I was physically assaulted by Morro Bay Chief Of Police Gregory Allen and uniformed Officer Greg Gruich while conducting a First Amendment Audit outside of the city’s police station. There has been much talk of this incident and many people have publicly voiced their opinion concerning what happened.
But before I get into the story behind the incident itself, I’d like to first thank everyone who has showed me so much love and support in the aftermath of what took place in Morro Bay. It really means so much to me and from the bottom of my heart I would like to publicly thank all of you.
I realize that most of you reading this probably know what a First Amendment Audit is. But for the sake of those who are unfamiliar with the subject, I’d like to explain it right now.
A First Amendment Audit is a form of activism. It is where individuals, such as myself, exercise their rights by openly filming government buildings in public spaces. The purpose of these audits is to test the response of officials in order to see if our constitutional right to film in public will be respected. I myself have conducted many First Amendment Audits and the responses I’ve received from those in law enforcement have ranged from mild interactions to extremely intense confrontations involving threats of arrest.
But never before have I received the kind of response as I did last February 6th when I decided to conduct a First Amendment Audit of the Morro Bay Police Department.
The city of Morro Bay is a small coastal community located in San Luis Obispo County, California. It has a population of about ten thousand residents and for most part is a quiet and relaxed kind of town. That is why I was I not anticipating any kind of major confrontation during this audit. I figured I might get a mild response, if any, from somebody within’ the department as I had less than an hour earlier when I audited the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Substation in the neighboring town of Los Osos. Lets talk about that for a moment.
Before traveling to the city of Morro Bay, I had found myself in the town of Los Osos. Located just south of Morro Bay, Los Osos is a small coastal community. But unlike Morro Bay, Los Osos is in an unincorporated area of the county and therefore their law enforcement services are provided for by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department. There is actually a small Sheriff’s substation in Los Osos and on this day I decide to conduct an audit there.
As I had done during previous audits, I decided to walk into the public lobby of the Los Osos Sheriff’s station and film. It was there that I encountered a Sergeant Steve Odom whom I had a brief, but pleasant, conversation with. Sergeant Odom had no issues whatever with my filming the station’s lobby and I was free to go about my business unmolested.
Now this brings me to a very interesting point. As I mentioned earlier, less than an hour later I would find myself in Morro Bay where I was confronted by Chief Of Police Gregory Allen and uniformed Officer Greg Gruich. Both individuals claimed that it was “illegal” for me to film inside the public lobby of the police station and that it was a “misdemeanor crime.” If that was actually true, then why was I not arrested by Sergeant Odom the moment I stepped into the lobby of the Los Osos Sheriff”s Station with a video camera? The answer is quite simple. There was NO CRIME!
Filming in a public area, such as a police station lobby, is a constitutionally protected act that is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. But despite my constitutionally protected rights, Chief Allen and Officer Gruich still felt that they were within’ their right to violently throw me to the ground, which caused my forehead to hit the concrete, painfully twist my arms behind my back, and throw me in the back of a hot police car where they left me handcuffed for an hour.
I think it is important for me to mention something about the current Morro Bay Chief Of Police. Chief Gregory Allen is a 34 year veteran of Los Angeles Police Department. With this knowledge, I find it extremely baffling to think that an individual with more than three decades of experience in law enforcement would not understand the basic laws concerning public photography.
In the end I was released with no charges. Why wasn’t I charged with a crime? Again the answer is simple. There was NO CRIME! At least not on my end. The people who committed the crimes during this incident were Chief Allen and Officer Gruich when they assaulted me and held me against my will for an hour. But will the San Luis Obispo County District’s Attorney’s Office take action in this matter by investigating and ultimately filing criminal charges against Chief Allen and Officer Gruich? I think that most of you probably already know the answer to this question as well.
But the story does not end here.
The day following my assault by Chief Allen and Officer Gruich, myself and fellow First Amendment activist Johnny Five O, decided to go to Morro Bay to protest what had taken place the previous day, as well as exercise our constitutional rights to film in public. We found ourselves being GANG STALKED by some local residents whom followed and harassed us for more than three hours as we attempted to make our way to our vehicle unmolested. Realizing that we were not going to get any help from the Morro Bay Police Department, whom conveniently disappeared the moment the gang stalking started, repeated calls to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol were made on our behalf. Those who called in received an answering machine, were hung up on, or simply told that there was nothing their agency could, or would, do to help us. To serve and protect huh?
It was obvious that this harassment was organized by the city. I’d like to point to a particular piece of evidence. Jennifer Little, whom is the tourism manager for the city of Morro Bay, posted a public comment on the personal Facebook page of a Scott Crabtree. Mr. Crabtree was one of the individual’s leading the harassment campaign. In her Facebook post, Ms. Little thanked Crabtree for what he did to us. Of course she has since removed her very incriminating Facebook post, but not before it was screen captured. I wonder what ol’ Jennifer Little has to say about this.
Since my assault on February 6th, there has been much coverage of this incident by the local media. Unfortunately, most of it has been FAKE NEWS as the mainstream media only seems interested in favoring the Morro Bay Police Department while painting us First Amendment Auditors as anti government and cop haters. That is where I feel that we in independent media play such an important role in bringing about the truth behind these stories, opposed to sugar coating the facts as the mainstream media so often does.
Once again thank you all for your continued support. Please stay tuned as I will be bringing you more updates on this story. Until time may the force be with you. Happy trails.