While headed to Peoria, Ill. for an Umphrey’s McGee concert on July 5, journalist Julio Rausseo was surprised to find agents with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) setting up a checkpoint in the Amtrak boarding area.
Rausseo is a Midwest correspondent for We Are Change, an independent media group that focuses on “expos[ing] corruption worldwide,” according to their website. He shot a video using his cell phone of the agents setting up, and on it, expressed his frustration that train passengers were being subjected to searches:
“We have TSA agents–these aren’t police officers, they don’t have a right to grope us, they don’t have a right to wear any badges, they’re not authorized law enforcement agents–yet they have the audacity to do what they do at the airports, they have the audacity to come to our train stations,” Rausseo says in his first video (Watch the unedited footage above).
Rail car oversight is under the administration’s purview, but Amtrak police’s response to Rausseo’s recording seems to go a little overboard. Not only do they try to stop him from recording the agents during the incident on July 5, but according to We Are Change, they approached him one week later while he was dining in the station to warn him not to videotape them again.
Rausseo recorded audio of his second interaction with police. In the recording (See full video below), someone he later identifies as an Amtrak police officer can be heard scolding him for posting his earlier video on YouTube, threatening to remove him from the station, accusing him of being unprofessional and threatening him with arrest if he crosses a security checkpoint again.
He also tells Rausseo that recording the officers can be viewed as a type of terrorism, and demands to see his identification.
“You’re obviously a rookie journalist, ’cause any seasoned journalist would know that you follow policy and procedure,” says the voice of a second man on the tape, purported to be a representative from the station. “A normal journalist and a professional journalist would know to go to management office, get a permit, who you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Then they escort you, and you are able to execute your First Amendment rights.”
Rausseo says in the recording that he contacted the federal government to inquire about the TSA presence, and was referred to the Chicago office.
At the conclusion of his original July 5 recording, Rausseo muses, “So much for yesterday being Independence Day, right?”
Did Rausseo overstep any boundaries, or did Chicago police infringe on his rights? Tell us your thoughts below.
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