“Anaheim James” Redkey, dangerous for video recording actions of the police? or just for being there?

A.J. Redkey could be the most dangerous man in Fullerton if we consider the resources spent to arrest him. On May 7 someone in the Fullerton Police Department ordered six officers in three separate vehicles to travel 35 miles to Pasadena to arrest Mr. Redkey. He had been belatedly charged for failing to disperse from an unlawful assembly months after having been present during a January 18 protest over the not-guilty verdicts handed down in the trial of two Fullerton Police Officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas.

As the Rag wrote on May 8, Mr. Redkey was peacefully taken into custody while attending another, unrelated protest. He was taken to jail in Fullerton before, according to Mr. Redkey, being shuttled to the county jail in Santa Ana for an overnight stay without any other explanation than that FPD phone lines were being barraged with calls about him. He was released on his own recognizance, which would seem to be unusually lenient in a case where six officers were somehow required for his apprehension.

One has to wonder about a few things…

How many outstanding warrants are there at any given time in Fullerton?

What is the standard number of officers sent to arrest someone for a violent felony vs. a non-violent misdemeanor?

Is it unusual to send a force of officers so far away to arrest someone easily found much closer to home?

Mr. Redkey identifies himself as a “citizen journalist”, whose website inLeague Press archives video from protests and other public events, for the purpose of “People protecting people, with cameras”. Ryan Moore, Mr. Redkey’s website partner, recorded video of Mr. Redkey’s arrest last week in Pasadena. He is the second such citizen journalist, after Patricia Beers, to be arrested following the January 18 protest.

The evolution of cheap, good quality video used in combination with instantaneously available internet upload capabilities has given more power and credibility to people who simply document on the ground activities, often involving police. Although authorities may be skeptical of their qualifications, there is no denying that having footage of events is better than not having it, especially when a judge or jury has to decide what happened after the fact. While it may be difficult for police to determine who is and who is not a self-identified member of the press, it should not be the priority of the police to arrest citizen journalists.

The Fullerton Police Department has offered no explanation of why such a large force of officers was sent so far away to apprehend a single man for a non-violent misdemeanor. The use of so many officers spending so much time and equipment to take someone into custody suggests, at best, that management has a skewed view of what constitutes protecting the public. At worst, police are viewed as deliberately harassing people who like to take video of their actions in public. Only management at the Fullerton Police Department can tell us for sure, which, if any, of these characterizations they think is accurate, but not saying anything about it speaks volumes.

The public deserves an explanation. The May 20 meeting of the Fullerton City Council could provide a good opportunity for the police to provide one to the many people planning to ask for it there.