In an article titled ‘First Amendment auditors’ hunting for clickbait, in what shouldn't come as a major surprise to anybody, the Mason County Press and the Oceana CP made strong condemnations against First Amendment protected activity, recently seen in both counties.   Why would a reputable news agency serving the public editorialize against the constitutional right that gives them the ability to write articles without government interference?  The answer is they wouldn't.

The article was not a knee jerk reaction by the writer, Allison Scarbrough, as it was published on April 18th, at least three days after the auditing team appeared in Oceana County (which she writes about) and two days after they again appeared in Mason County.  Rather it was a deliberate and thought-out hatchet piece about the Fric'n Media team that go around the midwest and educate officials and the public about their basic rights in America.  

The Ludington Torch first saw the team on the afternoon of April 16th when they were in the Ludington Library, where they appeared to be well-received.  I followed them, saw them look into the post office windows and then head into the downtown area and stop at the windows of businesses and record from the sidewalk what was happening inside, as seen in the picture below taken by this reporter.

Those familiar with their schtick know that this is to audit reactions of those inside.  While business owners and their employees almost universally welcome people 'window shopping' at their store, you may be surprised that some have a strong reaction when they are being filmed by someone at the window, even when their own store may have dozens of security cameras all about.  

Like public officials that these guys cover, their reactions are caught on camera and put out for all to see, and anybody who has been caught acting a little crazy for trying to suggest these people have no right to do what they are doing, learn a little something in the process.  These guys do this at great risk to themselves, as they could come to a jurisdiction that may lock them up for their constitutionally protected activity.

Ms. Scarbrough, and her MCP boss Rob Alway, who reprinted the OCP article on the MCP, are one of those rare people who don't learn even after the experience is over.  The title gives away their disdain for people going out and exercising the same rights they use with impunity every day to post mug shots and unflattering court shots of people who may not be guilty of any crime.  Many would say those pictures actively hunted by the two 'journalists', are clickbait that run counter to the accused's right to privacy, but this pair would never consider that.

She leads with:   "Four men claiming to be “First Amendment auditors” have been making their rounds locally to bait police, government officials and businesspeople to act unprofessionally and post unflattering videos of them on YouTube."

This is inflammatory language assigning motives to the men who actually conduct First Amendment audits for years, they aren't just claiming that.  Baiting is its own loaded term which does not apply to those who are just quietly exercising their rights and catch those poorly educated or trained on the same.  The auditors post not only the people that they school, but also the ones that understand their rights to record in a public place.  Granted, the fools who do not understand their rights get more attention, but that's to be expected.  

She then further tries to prejudice the reader against these folks saying that they sometimes film inside buildings, failing to note that those would be public buildings where the general public is welcome.  After reciting what the LPD put up on their webpage on the 16th, she relates what her sheriff told her:

Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast said the group made a stop at the Oceana County Courthouse earlier this week. “I talked to them for a while, and they are really crude, vulgar and rude,” he said. “They were creeping around the courthouse.” The men were shooting video through the windows of work stations inside the courthouse, he said. “This worried the employees. We have sensitive information in the courthouse, such as jury questionnaires.

If Sheriff Mast wants to portray these people as rude, crude, and vulgar, without offering up his own proof using courthouse footage, I'll believe what I see on the team's other videos, where those descriptives don't seem to be evident, except in those who aggressively oppose their right to film in public places.  If employees are looking at jury questionnaires within the view of the general public, it's the county's problem, not from someone with a camera in a public area.  Scarbrough continues:

They posted a video harassing Shelby State Bank employees at the Shelby branch. When officials asked their names, they refused to give their names. When asked why they were filming, one of them answered, “I tour towns for people who can’t necessarily do it themselves.” While filming, they make many disparaging remarks about the people and the businesses. 

It's unbelievable that a "journalist" watching these videos come to such conclusions.  In the video, they record from the window, they get harassed for that activity.  The bank officers have no reason to ask for their names in such situations.  Scarbrough then claims they make many disparaging remarks about people and their businesses but doesn't offer any evidence of same or link to the video, which I couldn't locate.

"They’re difficult to legally stop,” said Mast. “The best remedy is not to confront them.” If they film outside your window, pull the shade down. 

“They’re splitting hairs with constitutional rights,” said the sheriff. “They’re on the edge of being caustic — trying to rile people up. They know where they can push the limit. This is very disturbing to people.”

The group appears to be baiting people into acting unprofessionally, particularly those who have taken an oath to uphold the constitution, such as police officers.

Sheriff Mast is the one trying to rile people up, along with his willing accomplices, Allison Scarbrough and Rob Alway.  The Fric'n Media team will not come up to your home and record as he infers, as that is patently illegal.  What disturbs many people is the viewpoint of a sheriff and those who claim to be a media group that doesn't understand basic civil rights.  If this makes either police or 'press' want to be unprofessional and disturbed, it appears to have worked here.  

They haven't posted any videos yet from Mason County this year, but here's a couple of our favorite video from the past, from February 2022:

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I understand why Fricnmedia does these video postings. I agree that they have a right to do this on public property but they have no right doing this type of action on private property. They're not going to win over the citizenry by harassing people and taking vidoes thru store windows. I am not a fan of all the surveillance cameras being installed out in the public domain especially by the Government. I know Fricnmedia is trying to make a point but adding to this insane surveillance camera mind set by recording video thru privately owned windows in order to make their argument does not help the situation. My advice to them is stick to video recording publicly owned areas and leave businesses alone.
Also Ficnmedia is not baiting the police and other officials to act unprofessionally. There is no reason for public employees to act unprofessionally under any circumstance. The police and other officials are employed to serve the public and as such are subject to scrutiny by the public. If they don't like that or do not understand that then they should seek employment in the private sector.

While I would much rather watch videos of public buildings and flustered public officials, I can understand why some who feel the same would flinch at them making their storefront videos.  I have grown to see value in those videos also since they concentrate on storefronts that are built directly adjacent to the sidewalk, a totally public space.  Stores do this not only so they can maximize their square footage, but to gain an advantage of enticing those walking by to come in through store window displays and the like.  

If I ran a downtown restaurant and this crew came by and angered customers by having their lunch interrupted by being filmed or being observed through the window, I would look into alternatives to further protect their privacy when dining, so future audits would be nullified.  When this happens, it is a victory for privacy rights, so one can assign value to the storefront audits for civil libertarians.

As shown this week in NYC, jury questionnaires are hardly confidential information.

I'm not a fan of the methods used by the auditors, they're often more interested in getting clicks than anything else. I've watched many videos made by auditors and in almost everyone of them, they go over the line repeatedly. Many of them love to go into post offices and record, often referring to Poster 7 that can be seen in any post office, saying that the poster says that they have the right to record there. Here is the specific information from the poster:

Photographs for News, Advertising,
or Commercial Purposes
Photographs for news purposes may be
taken in entrances, lobbies, foyers, corri-
dors, or auditoriums when used for public
meetings except where prohibited by
official signs or Security Force personnel
or other authorized personnel or a federal
court order or rule. Other photographs may
be taken only with the permission of the
local Postmaster or installation head.

If there is signage in the building that says no recording, it ends there. Many of the auditors though push the issue and often the police have to be called because the auditors refuse to stop recording and end either being made to leave by the police if they continue to record, or the auditors are arrested. Similar scenarios happen with auditors going into Secretary of State/DMV offices, the auditors are told that they can't record there but will continue to do so until the police are called and like with post offices, they are either escorted out and made to leave the premises or they end up arrested.

Many of the auditors use the guise that they're journalist, writing a story, rarely do any of these interactions ever end up being a story anywhere. All you get 99% of the time is an edited video that will highlight what the auditors see as their rights being violated but of course, you're not getting the whole story.

Not long ago, while watching the show On Patrol: Live, police were called to deal with a man who had 'wandered' into a gathering inside of a building on private property. When the police arrived, the man is standing on the property, and films the officers as they arrive. They ask why he was there, and why he entered the building, he goes on about being able to film in public spaces... which is correct... except when's standing on the lawn, he's not filming on public property. He says that he 'mistakenly' entered the building and when asked to leave, he did exit the building, just didn't exit the property. This guy also engages in an activity that many auditors like to do by not giving his name to the officers when asked. The guy pushes the subject and is told that if he doesn't give his name, that he'll be arrested for obstruction, after several minutes, the guy ends up in cuffs and is taken to jail.

There's nothing more annoying than a FA auditor who isn't aware of their legal boundaries.

That being said, post offices are not unlike courthouses and city halls that can make their own rules about what is established behavior in their building, and have it apply in all of their buildings.  Those rules, however, cannot violate the First Amendment protections of their visitors from the public, and that's where the auditors will come in and test the waters.  Filming in areas accessible to the public, where privacy rights will not be violated should be allowed in all public buildings.  

So when Sheriff Mast has concerns about confidential jury questionnaires being seen by FAAs, he's indicating that the official holder of those forms is already keeping them in view of the public, which is the sole fault of those officials, not the auditors.  If your post office is concerned that they may catch view of some personal and confidential mail in a tray, it's on the post office for keeping them in view of the general public.  

I have never seen Fric'n Media and crew visit post offices and push the envelope, so to speak, but if they did I'm sure they would.

who are thee auditors ? are they YOUTUBE video makers [youtubers]? or are they hired by some Government watch dog groupe waisting our tax dollars on some BS to make people uneasy with their video taking. Videos taken in public places is ok to a point but I bet if you owned a Jewery store , computer business and they came in videoing everything you would be singing a different tune.

Probably, but these auditors know that they can record from outside the window on the public right of way without having to worry about being in violation of anybody's privacy rights.  Most jewelry stores have multiple cameras inside and out, so why are people okay with those, but upset when somebody is obvious in their recording and standing in a place where the public is encouraged to window shop by having window displays?

Here's the one on Ludington, they just put it out, I was hoping to get in the background, but I didn't make the cut:

These guys are assholes. They are creating more negativity to their cause than helping it. I don't often disagree with you X but in my opinion taking videos of people inside a private building is not the same as video recording what is happening on the sidewalk outside of a business. Businesses have cameras for security reasons, most likely for retail theft. There is no reason to video record thru a store window. The law is very clear. If the owner of a business tells you to stop recording what is going on inside their building then you must stop recording.
Your last sentence is incorrect in so many ways Willy. I find it funny that you call them “assholes” by exercising the exact same 1st amendment right they are using to record people. It’s seems you want to apply it how it fits you, rather than what it actually encompasses.
AG, please explain the many ways my last sentence is incorrect. There is a difference between how folks practice and teach about our First Amendment rights and people who act as obnoxious, pushy, in your face assholes. Unfortunately you do not think there is a difference. These people think it's OK to practice and display their First Amendment rights in this manner. Like spoiled children. However, I think most people would not agree with their methods.
I tried to access their web site on YouTube but it is not operating. If Youtube canceled them, then shame on Youtube for censoring. This is a major problem I have with most of the social media.

They actually were taken off of Youtube Thursday, as seen in this Youtube video whose viewpoint is not favorable towards them:

Michigan Constitutional Crusader's videos are still up on Youtube, he often travels with Fricn and has many of the same videos, if you're wanting to check out the latest.


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