A group of Boy Scouts from Central Iowa received a lesson they won’t forget in federal manners at a border crossing from Canada into Alaska. According to the scoutmaster, a casual snapshot of a Border Patrol agent got the group of about two dozen scouts and volunteers detained, searched—and one of them ultimately held at gunpoint.
According to Marcus McIntosh of Iowa’s KCCI:
Boy Scout Troop 111 Leader Jim Fox spelled out what happened to him and the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111 as four van-loads of Scouts and adult volunteers tried to drive from Canada into Alaska.
Fox said one of the Scouts took a picture of a border official, which spurred agents to detain everyone in that van and search them and their belongings.
“The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and 10 years in prison,” Fox said.
Fox said he was told it is a federal offense to take a picture of a federal agent.
Not wanting things to escalate, Fox said he did not complain.
Another of the Scouts was taking luggage from the top of a van to be searched when something startling happened.
“He hears a snap of a holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head,” Fox explained.
… For the record, federal rules specifically permit photographing federal facilities, at least for “news, advertising, or commercial purposes.” There don’t seem to be any special limits on just-because snapshots. …
The American Civil Liberties Union offers guidance, too, including the photography of federal agents:
Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.
But, adds the ACLU, “there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply.”
Relatively isolated border crossings in Alaska might be the sort of place where you’d run into that pattern. …
Allegations that a CBP official pulled a gun on the Boy Scouts are “unsubstantiated” insists the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General. However, CBP did order a scout to delete a photograph of the port of entry, cuz the fact that the U.S. shares a border with Canada is super-secret. And they tossed the kid’s luggage after finding a photo of a marijuana bud on his phone. They also forced the rest of the scouts to remain in their vehicles during the fruitless search for that bud under threat of detention. So all is well, say the feds.