From Darkness To Light

19 Aug 2023

San Juan Basin Public Health redirects public from lobby because of journalist’s camera

Posted by Adam Howell

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San Juan Basin Public Health redirected the public from the entering the public lobby in Durango while I video recorded my visit during business hours on 8/18/23, according to Environmental Health Director Brian Devine.

San Juan Basin PublicTo be clear, I was visiting the facility to submit written requests for public records with a friend running a YouTube Channel called 4corner Fistntheair.

Devine then called the police to claim that we were disrupting and interfering with operations by peacefully video recording.

Alarmingly, Devine claimed that we were breaking the law by recording our visit.

“I enforce the laws of the state,” Devine said.

Sergeant Juan Gallegos #6881 and Officer Derrick Gallegos #9367 responded to Devine’s call for service.

They refused to acknowledge our freedom of the press right to gather matters of public interest as an act of conducting business.

Officer Derrick Gallegos regurgitated the obfuscations of Devine by saying that our video recording in the lobby amounted to a disruption or interference.

At the same time, neither of the officers saw us having any interaction with members of the public while inside of the lobby.

In other words, Officer Derrick Gallegos embellished about our actions on the property without having seen any evidence that a disruption or interference had occurred. Any decision by staff of San Juan Basin Public Health to redirect the public from or exclude the public from entering the lobby was independent of my peaceful video recording while inside of the lobby.

At no time did I ever physically prevent a member of the public from entering the lobby or from conducting their business.

Alas, it wasn’t the first interaction that I had with Devine where he attempted to keep me from recording in public. At a public meeting at Durango Public Library, Devine tried to get me to stop video recording a presentation about water quality in La Plata County.

Adam Howell is a writer who believes in free press and the importance of the constitution. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.

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