BY RAUL HERNANDEZ
There are clowns with cameras, and there are First Amendment Auditors.
First Amendment auditors video record at public spaces, including City Halls, DMVs, police on patrol, police departments, military facilities, and Post Offices.
They test to see if government workers, officials, public employees, cops, and politicians are doing their jobs and how they treat the public.
Most importantly, they test to see if the First Amendment is respected and whether public-taxpayer-owned spaces maintain transparency and accountability.
But many of these citizen-activist auditors are nothing more than obnoxious, rude, and loud-mouth morons looking for attention and paychecks from Youtube or other social media outlets where they post these videos. I never watch what they do because they create more problems and are just Circus Acts.
However, there are First Amendment auditors who consistently do excellent reporting with cameras. Who are often resilient but fair and courteous. And who provide community service by holding the powerful and others accountable and ensuring public spaces aren’t closed by political autocrats.
Often, these auditors conduct second or third audit visits to ensure compliance with the First Amendment and state laws. There is a lot of drama, entertainment, and laughter. But there is much education about Civil Rights, First Amendment issues, and The Open Records Act.
Unsurprisingly, a few YouTuber auditors are arrested for disorderly conduct, trespassing, or other charges. Most cases are thrown out of court because they have no merit or are trumped-up criminal charges.
Ignore the Clowns with Cameras. Subscribe to auditors who earn the paychecks and keep the First Amendment, transparency, and accountability alive and vibrant across America.
I was a newspaper reporter at four newspapers — El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso Times, The Press-Enterprise in Riverside County, Calif., and the Ventura County Star — for over 30 years.
I wore a coat and tie when I covered the courts. I knew that any unprofessional conduct, on or off the job, could tarnish my credibility or, worse, get a reporter fired.
However, First Amendment Auditors break the newsroom rules. But I admire their spontaneity, creativity, courage, and in-your-face auditing. Good auditors can cite laws backward and forward and use this knowledge to educate cops and bureaucrats, including municipal attorneys.
Below are some of the auditors whose work I enjoy watching.
Check out their videos (some are hours old, others much older).
If you like what the citizen auditing they do, subscribe, send them a message of encouragement, and help them out:
The Last Video is Oldie but a Goodie by Big Nick South Florida Accountability — Four Years Ago