Some concerned, others annoyed by 'first amendment audits' videos

Published: Feb. 8, 2019 at 5:27 PM CST
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Videos of confrontations with public officials making their way to the internet is nothing new, but a newer trend in videos called "First Amendment audits" has some concerned and others just annoyed.

"Don't touch the camera," Patrick Roth can be heard saying from behind the camera. In the video, he and a friend, are visiting and videotaping a nuclear facility in Kansas City, Missouri. A security officer asks Roth why he and his friend are there and a confrontation ensues. It all unfolds in what's called a "First Amendment Audit." One of many Roth has posted on his YouTube channel, News Now Patrick.

In the videos, people with cameras walk into public places like police stations and jails recording and posting the interactions with officials that often follow.

"Turn that camera off now, please," a woman in Oklahoma City can be heard saying.

"Do not come back or you will have charges pressed against you," a man says on another.

In an interview from his Oklahoma home, Roth said he is simply exercising his First Amendment rights.

"We go around the country and just test the first amendment rights. We go into public buildings, police departments, city buildings. Pretty much anything," Roth said. "We want to be able to film unmolested and if they freak out, they freak out. It gets pretty crazy."

In a video posted in October 2018, Roth and a friend made a stop in Wichita. Outside the Sedgwick County Detention Center, video rolls as a deputy tells Roth, "The sheriff says no videotaping, so it's not allowed."

Though, after watching the video, Wichita attorney Charley O'Hara said that deputy is mistaken.

"Our country is kind of based on the fact that government places ought to be open and we can see what's going on," O'Hara explained. "What's happening in the government is kind of what we're based on."

For his part, Roth claims the videos are more for educational purposes than sensational motives.

"The whole point for these first amendment audits is associated with just exercising those rights and letting them know that they can't do anything about it because it's our right to do so. Freedom of the press and all that," said Roth.

Some of the reactions News Now Patrick receives get heated. He says he has been handcuffed on several occasions and arrested twice. Roth's friend sometimes openly carries a gun in the videos when the law allows, but Roth says, only when the law allows.

"People do love a good show. I get that, but my channel is not like that. I post good encounters, bad encounters. However they act, it doesn't matter to me because I'll post it anyway," he said.

Like it or not, from what Charley O'Hara saw, Roth is within his rights to do what he's are others to ignore it.

"I don't really know why people react to it. They seem to react more than they should. Back when I was in grade school, if people would tease me at recess and I'd react, they'd keep teasing me. If I'd let it go, they'd leave me alone," O'Hara said.

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