A 6-minute hidden camera video investigation highlights the hypocrisy of California legislators’ views on homelessness and the growing threat to the Fourth Amendment from the Department of Homeland Security.
In the first half of the video by Project Veritas, journalists posing as homeless people rest out in front of home of Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, one of the California legislators who backed the so-called “Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act.”
The controversial bill would overturn dozens of local ordinances against vagrancy and give the homeless the right “to move freely, rest, eat, share, accept, or give food or water, and solicit donations in public spaces.” “The effect of this proposed legislation,” says video journalist James O’Keefe in his narration, “is that homeless people would be entitled to sleep or solicit donations on any public sidewalk.”
A previous version of the bill gave vagabonds the right to “engage in life-sustaining activities” including urinating and defecating in public. The bill’s supporters, including sponsor Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, have even compared the treatment of the homeless in cities like San Francisco to Jim Crow and “de facto” segregation.
“Essentially, the bill gives homeless people a ‘right’ to sleep out in front of your house,” O’Keefe explained to The Daily Caller by phone. “We wanted to see how the assemblyman would react if he had homeless people sleeping out in front of his house. And what do you know? Dickinson called the cops on us.”
Minutes after a car driven by Dickson left his driveway in the tony Woodlake neighborhood of Sacramento, the police showed up and told undercover journalist Christian Hartsock and his crew to move along.
The police officer warned them not to hang out in that neighborhood, saying, “Basically around here, you want to keep it moving because it’s going to draw unwanted attention…I’m saying you don’t want to hang out in this neighborhood really.”
“The sidewalk is public property but when it’s in front of somebody’s home that in turn affects the house and so that’s where we come in,” explained the officer when the video vagrants asked if they could stay out of the rain. “So I can tell you where you can go and do that, you know, if it’s in kind of a like a business area, as long as it’s not in front of that business.”
Following their expulsion from Dickinson’s faubourg, Hartsock and crew decided to go stand outside of the offices of Tom Ammiano in downtown San Francisco. After awhile, the journalists left — only to be met by Homeland Security agents demanding to see their legally obtained footage.
The unnamed Homeland Security officer threatened Hartsock with arrest if he didn’t turn over his footage.
“Why do the terms ‘warrant,’ ‘subpoena’ and ‘probable cause’ even exist anymore if a federal agent can compel me at whim to surrender my property at the casual threat of indefinite detention with as much ease as asking me the time of day?” Hartsock asked TheDC.
“I appreciate the agent was merely doing his job so I harbor no animus towards him at all, but rather towards the evident reality of private citizens and property being increasingly at the mercy of an insatiably overcurious government that meddles comfortably at its own convenience,” Hartsock added.
That kind of harassment by law enforcement isn’t news for O’Keefe, who says the government deleted video evidence that would have shown he was innocent when he entered Senator Mary Landrieu’s office wearing a telephone repairman outfit, an incident that led to his pleading guilty to a misdemeanor but inspired persistent myths by left-wing journalists that he was trying to “wiretap” Landrieu’s phone.
“The last time we waived our rights the federal government destroyed our property, charged us with a crime we didn’t commit and gave us probation for years,” says O’Keefe in the video. This past week he was finally removed from federal probation over that misdemeanor.
O’Keefe hopes to tell his side of what happened in a forthcoming June book, “Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud And Save Our Democracy.” He’s also come out in favor of left-wing activists like those who eavesdropped on Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, arguing in The Daily Beast that there should be no expectation of privacy by public figures.
Now that he is off federal probation, O’Keefe promises more investigations every week until his book is released.