Bryan Carmody was a freelance journalist with a source to protect. 

While writing a story on the death of San Francisco’s former public defender, the journalist received many documents from a person within the police department, including a “confidential” police report.

When confronted about these documents, Carmody refused to reveal his source.  This, of course, is his prerogative under the First Amendment.  Additionally, he lives in California, which also has “shield laws which protect journalists from being held in contempt or criminally charged for refusing to reveal their sources.” All Americans are very familiar with this concept, except apparently the San Francisco Police Department.

A few weeks after refusing to name names, cops raided the journalist’s home.  They put him in handcuffs as they seized “his computers, cameras, phones and notebooks.” The raid lasted six hours while Carmody was in handcuffs the entire time.  One can imagine that his neighbors were curious about what was happening over at his home.

When Americans rightly were outraged at this journalist’s ordeal, San Francisco’s chief of police, William Scott made an outrageous allegation.  In a weird effort to deflect from what his officers did, he said that the journalist was an “active participant in the commission of the criminal acts beyond his role with the news media.” Scott also said that the journalist would be under investigation until he revealed his source or the police figured it out by themselves.

But Americans weren’t buying this ridiculous deflection.  

Scott has since changed his tune. 

Now, he calls the terrifying and illegal raid on Carmody’s home a “mistake,” according to NPR.

A “mistake” is when I forget to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home.  This was a blatant violation of this man’s rights. But even when Scott did try to do better, he still didn’t take full responsibility.  According to The Daily Wire:

Scott instead told the San Francisco Chronicle that the documents officers compiled to obtain the warrant did not adequately describe Carmody as a journalist, NPR says, even though a fairly simple internet search would have turned up the fact that Carmody operated as a freelance investigative reporter.

“Scott also said the officers who executed the warrants violated department policy by not first consulting with the district attorney’s office,” the outlet added.

I think Scott is missing the point.  This was a horrifying ordeal against an American citizen, a journalist, by a city government.  Carmody’s intimidation was the purpose of the raid, not the unfortunate by-product of the raid.  This shameful abuse of power is reminiscent of when armed police officers raided the homes of conservative Wisconsin activists at dawn, barging into sleeping children’s rooms, confiscating cell phones and computers, carting off files, and ordering the targets of the raids to keep quiet.  These “John Doe” investigations targeted conservatives fighting for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker back in 2010.

We must speak out against these witch hunts, whether they are partisan in nature, designed to penalize American citizens for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, or done to intimidate journalists into revealing their sources.

Scott finally was shamed into what pass as an apology.  

“This has raised important questions about our handling of this case and whether the California shield law was violated,” Scott said in a statement. He also told CNNthat “journalists and everyone in our city deserve a police department that will maintain the constitutional rights of all.”

However, he needs to do better than this ambiguous, vague apology.  

Justice needs to be served and the public deserves to know who was behind this horrifying and unconstitutional raid.

Image Credit: PXHere

Hat Tip: Daily WireCNN, National Review, and NPR

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.