MESA, ARIZONA- October 16th, 2021– On October 10th, 3 first amendment auditors were arrested for trespassing at a Circle K gas station while filming police activity. During the encounter, all 3 of the arrested individuals were not asked to leave while filming on private property. The property is owned by the presiding judge of Maricopa County.
During the encounter the officers speak with one of the people in charge of the store. Who apparently agreed with the officers to have the individuals trespassed. At no point were the individuals asked to leave the premises.
Criminal Trespass in Arizona Requires a Warning
In Arizona, as with most states. An individual must be warned that they are not welcome on the property. And subsequently given the chance to leave before being charged.
According to Arizona Statute 13-1502:
A. A person commits criminal trespass in the third degree by:
1. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on any real property after a reasonable request to leave by a law enforcement officer, the owner or any other person having lawful control over such property, or reasonable notice prohibiting entry.”
However, the three 1A auditors who were arrested were not given the chance to leave. But were instead immediately detained, arrested and charged with trespassing.
The Owner of the Gas Station is a Mesa Judge
Further the gas station where the 3 auditors were charged is owned by Kieth Russell. The ‘presiding judge for the 26 Maricopa County Justice Courts‘. And owner of Russell Enterprises.
First Amendment Auditing in Mesa, AZ Has Been A Controversial Topic
First amendment auditing has been a controversial topic in Mesa, Arizona.
For example, in July, Youtuber Direct D was arrested for allegedly trespassing in a similar incident. As a result, more first amendment auditors have come to Mesa, AZ. To film police during the course of their civil duties.
Unfortunately, the police in Mesa have a track record that isn’t that great. As a result, it is fueling the ire of the growing community of 1A auditors online. Further it only draws in more attention, each time the police try to make their work more difficult.
The three first amendment auditors that were arrested are: