by Greg Fernandez Jr
We Are Change TV
December 1, 2012
Jason Bermas and Ashley Jessica participated in the “Opt-Out and Film Week” to spread the truth about body scanners and “other invasive TSA procedures. As they pass out the above flier to people inside the second floor of New York’s Albany International Airport, it’s not TSA that harasses them. It’s the airport’s Director of Public Affairs, Doug Myers, who will go to extreme lengths to prevent the two activists from reminding people of their legal right to film inside the airport, and to film the invasive TSA procedures. As Myers comes up the escalator, Ashley hands him a flier. Myers is tailed by two employees. A taller man in a blue shirt and a shorter man wearing a bright neon vest.
After talking the filer from Ashley, Douglas Myers asks Ashley Jessica, “Will you come down the stairs please?”
“Why?” says Ashley.
“We’re gonna take you downstairs and talk to you,” Myers responds.
“Ok,” Jason Bermas says off-screen.
The official demands the camera be turned off. Bermas politely declines. “First of all, turn this off right away,” Myers tells Jason Bermas. When Bermas does not comply, Myers tells someone off-screen, “Call the sheriff.” A sheriff’s deputy is nearby and approaches Bermas while Myers tells the deputy, “Take em downstairs.”
The deputy examines the flier for himself. Then heads towards the escalator with a paper in hand. The paper is from TSA’s website, which explains that it is legal to film inside the airport. Again, Myers asks Bermas to come downstairs.
“Absolutely I will come with you,” Bermas tells him, “we are going to keep filming.”
“No you’re not.”
“Absolutely going to be filming,” Bermas repeats.
“No you don’t have a permit.”
“We don’t need a permit.”
The sheriff’s deputy, Bermas, Ashley, and Public Relations Director Doug Myers go down the escalator.
As they reach the bottom of the stairs, the deputy asks Bermas, “What’s going on?”
“We have a national campaign that’s been picked up by Drudge, CBS, Huffington Post.com. We’re just here to hand out information on Opt-Out and Film Week. And again, TSA clearly states we can take pictures and film at checkpoints and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
The sheriff’s deputy asks, “Is this all the stuff that you’re handing out?”
“Yep, that’s all we’re doing. We’re not soliciting anybody. We’re not asking for money…we’re simply handing out information, sir.”
Enter Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy Stanley Lenic. The first deputy on the scene did a great job, in my opinion. He listened to both sides, and asked follow-up questions about Infowars.com and the purpose of the activism at the Albany airport.
While the two officers sort out the situation, Doug Myers wants Bermas to stop filming because he doesn’t have a permit. “Show me your permit.”
“Again” Bermas responds, “There is no permit.”
“Yes the is. The airport authority requires the permit…do you have a million dollars insurance policy here…you’re violating the airport authority guidelines…you’re in our airport.” With a thin grin Myers repeats a little softer, “You’re in our airport, ok?”
“Well I’m gonna challenge you on that,” Bermas tells Myers.
Myers then walks away from the camera, towards the window wall on the side of the escalator, where the two officers are talking.
“We gotta spread the information to the people,” Ashley says as she continues to pass out fliers to people on the first floor of the airport. “Apparently there’s a lot of mis-information out there.”
Deputy Sheriff Lenic returns to talk to Bermas and Ashley. “How you doing? Look, obviously this is your constitutional right. Ok. As far as we’re concerned, you’re not breaking any laws,” Lenic makes clear to Bermas and Ashley. “But as far as the airport authority, they have their own separate rules…they requested you have a million dollar insurance liability and they want an application process…as far as violating any rules or anything, as far as law enforcement, you’re not.”
Bermas then decides, “Alright, then we’re gonna go about our business and just hand out and film until someone tells us different. I mean, you are the law, correct?”
“That is correct.”
“Alright.” Bermas responds.
Communicating with someone on his cell-phone, Myers joins the conversation momentarily, pointing a finger towards Bermas, “You’re to stay down here for a while.” Myers tells Deputy Lenic, “Keep em down here for a while,” then turns and walks away. The officer does not move, and Myers gets off the phone as Lenic tells him, “Doug, I can’t really keep them down here” before adding there’s “no reason to detain them.”
Enter the Myers Check Point.
“Well then,” Myers raises his hands, “we’re gonna close it to all but ticketed passengers and we can do that.” Myers walks towards the escalator to implement the new rule. “Only ticketed passengers upstairs from now on,” Myers tells someone off-screen.
Bermas points to the bottom of the escalator. “We’ll just hand them out right here Ashley.” If they can’t go up the escalator to hand out fliers, the duo decides they will hand them out at the bottom of the escalator. Two airport employees stand guard at the bottom of the escalator. It’s not clear to me if they’re checking really the passenger’s tickets indiscriminately before allowing them to go up the escalator. Here we have a check point before a TSA check point. As Ashley continues to pass out fliers, Myers joins the two employees at the bottom of the escalator. Is he annoyed that Ashley is handing out fliers only inches away from him? Did he think if he stood in her way she would be intimidated to pass out the information?
As Myers talks to one employee, a lady in a pink sweater walks past Ashley, possibly declining to take a flier – I’m not sure if she did or not – and walks in between Myers and the employee. Did Myers or the other employee check the woman’s ticket? It doesn’t look like it from the video. It makes me wonder how many people were stopped at this new check point? At least two people walked straight up the escalator without their ticket being checked – according to what can be seen in the video.
After a few moments, Myers decides Ashley is too close to the escalator. Claiming she’s blocking traffic flow up the escalator, Myers politely asks her to “move back please.” Based on the video alone, it looks like no one has been going up the escalator at this point. It also appears that the two employees are not guarding the bottom of the escalator anymore. I guess Myers will have to enforce this new check point himself. But after a few words with Bermas, Myers walks away to see what officer Lenic is up to. Lenic is on a cell phone call with the CEO of the airport.
“So just so everybody knows what’s going on right here,” Bermas tells us, “They’re actually not letting people go pick people up from the spot where they always do because we wanted to hand out fliers.”
Lenic tells Bermas the CEO doesn’t mind them filming in the airport, but he does mind them passing out fliers. To which Bermas explains, “Well that’s the whole point of the campaign sir.”
Lenic tells Bermas, “I understand that.”
Myers asks if Bermas will “come next door, please, and fill out a form.”
“I will not come next door and fill out a form. There’s no necessary -”
Myers asks Bermas, “Do you have your insurance policy? No you’re videotaping commercially in the perimeter.” With a slight smirk, Myers tells Bermas, “Well you already told us it was gonna be on the Drudge Report, so that’s commercial.” Jason Bermas does not work for the Drudge Report, but like a lot of people around the world, Bermas must appreciate that Drudge will cover this type of issue, even if other media won’t.
“No actually,” Bermas corrects Myers, “Drudge Report is a news aggregate.”
Myers responds, “we don’t know who you are.”
“I told you who I am. I am Jason Bermas-”
“No,” responds Myers. “Let me see your identification.” Bermas has given his name to Myers several times by now.
“I don’t need to show you my identification.”
Deputy Sheriff Lenic agrees, “He doesn’t have to show you his identification.”
Bermas repeats, “I’ll tell you who I am.”
Myers asks Deputy Lenic, “Does he need to show you identification? I want his name.”
“I just told you my name,” says Bermas.
“We want both of their names, ok?” Myers tells the deputy.
Lenic reminds Myers, “Well he told you his name.”
“Yes” Myers agrees.
“My name’s Jason Bermas.” Myers does not acknowledge Bermas at this time.
Then Myers winks at the deputy while telling him, “But I’d like to get it from you.”
Jason spells his last name for Myers, “B-E-R-M-A-S sir.”
“I can’t give you that,” Sheriff Deputy Lenic responds. Myers looks from away from the officer as Lenic repeats, “I can’t give you that.”
“Ok,” says Myers.
“Ok, I mean,” Deputy Lenic explains, “He, he-”
Myers gently cuts off the officer, “The upstairs is now closed…all but ticketed passengers.”
Lenic’s eyes are on the floor. “Ok.” Now it’s Lenic’s turn to talk and he makes direct eye-contact with Myers. “Just so you know,” he tells Myers.
“Yeah,” Myers listens clasping his hands behind his back.
“Ok, he’s not doing anything wrong,” Lenic tells a frustrated Myers. “If I ask him for -”
Myers disagrees. “Under airport authority guidelines he is.”
Lenic responds, “As far as New York State Penal law, CPL, and VNT law he is not doing anything wrong. Ok. If I was to ask him for his identification, he does not have to give it to me because he’s not doing anything wrong. Ok, and I cannot give you that information.”
Myers tells the deputy that Ashley is “blocking our escalator over there. We want them to move back.”
Bermas adds, “She’s clearly not blocking your escalator sir. Now you’re kinda being ridiculous.”
Lenic observes the scene and continues speaking with Myers. “I’m waiting on a call back from, if you could just wait over there please.” Lenic directs Myers to stand nearby. After a few words Myers move away from Lenic. I don’t know what Lenic is thinking but he’s not smiling.
Ashley asks Lenic if he had a nice thanksgiving. “Yes I did.”
Lenic stands by as Bermas continues to film Ashley handing out fliers for the National Opt-Out Day at Albany International. Traffic flows without blockage as smiling faces glaring frowns hold the piece of paper that informs them of their constitutional rights.
At the end of the video Jason Bermas shakes hands with Deputy Sheriff Stan Lenic. “My name is Deputy Stan Lenic. If you need anything, ok?”
“I’m Jason, and I hope you will check out some of my films. I heard you talking about 9/11. I’ve done a few documentaries on that…everything I do is for free on-line man.”
“Everybody can watch it for free so please check out my films.”
“Ok, very good. Thank you,” responds Lenic.
Infowars.com‘s Paul Joseph Watson wrote a great article about this same issue titled, Shock Video: Cop Protects First Amendment
Watson ask the readers to “Consider the actions of police at both Reagan Airport and John F. Kennedy Airport, where activists Derrick Broze and Infowars reporter David Ortiz were both threatened with arrest and forced to leave the airport merely for filming and handing out the exact same flyers.”
Thee is a big difference for sure.
The Sheriff vs. City Police
I was deeply moved by this video. As someone who has had good relations with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, this just reminds me of the difference between Sheriffs and other types of police enforcement: like city police, BART police, and the California Highway Patrol. In California, the Sheriff of each county is an elected official, and therefore can be somewhat held accountable by the people of each county. The same cannot be said for other policing agencies and departments. If the Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer inside a particular county, I don’t understand why we need law enforcement that is not under the Sheriff. BART police activities have proven that they are more of a menace to society than a protector of peace. The Oscar Grant murder, and what happened afterwords proved that to me. It is why I will never ride on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) ever again.
I credit one Sheriff Deputy, Deputy Floyd Gill, with advancing my spiritual connection with Jesus Christ. Gill showed compassion and mercy when he could have gotten me into serious trouble. He helped my family when help was needed. In my situation, Deputy Gill truly served and protected me by treating me as a person, as a citizen, not as a criminal.
The Sheriffs and their deputies have a great responsibility today. They are human, they will make mistakes. Bad apples will always be a part of the apple tree, but the good fruit is what people in America crave for. If we look at each officer as an individual, perhaps we can avoid the continuing divide between citizens and law enforcement. It’s worth a try.