Columbus, GA – Two college students learned the hard way that life in a Police State often includes unnecessary interrogation, false accusations and citations for victimless “crimes,” even when the suspects in question were helping to clean up the community.
YouTubers Brandon Jordan and Tristan Yaptengco, both students at Columbus State University, were interrupted by police while they were filming what they referred to as a “river treasure” video. This consisted of Jordan and Yaptengco diving into a local river, and recovering the objects they found at the bottom—sometimes unique finds, and sometimes pieces of trash that they removed from the river.
Jordan told The Free Thought Project that he and his friends have gained a reputation in the community for helping to clean it up, while featuring their adventures on YouTube.
“We all do ‘river treasure’ videos in the river where we are always cleaning up old lures, nets, bundles of fishing line and anything we find on the bottom of the river,” Jordan said. “So we are always cleaning it up. Everyone down there knows us from our YouTube channels and how we do a lot of good publicity for the city.”
Well I’m not sure if it really covers it in the video but myself jake and Tristan all do “river treasure” videos in the river where we are always cleaning up old lures, nets, bundles of fishing line and anything we find on the bottom of the river. So we are always cleaning it up. Everyone down there knows us from our YouTube channels and how we do a lot of good publicity for the city. So that’s also why at one point in the video i say “as much as we do for the city.”
While in the water, Jordan and Yaptengco were interrupted by a police officer who was calling to them from the edge of the river, and demanding that they meet him on land. The men complied, and when they did reach the officer—who was patrolling the area on his bicycle—he began asking them about their knowledge of the law.
“Are you guys familiar with the code sections that cover swimming in the river [with] flotation devices?” the officer inquired.
When he asked if the two men had any I.D. on them, Jordan and Yaptengco replied and said that their driver’s licenses were in the truck they traveled in, which was in a nearby parking garage.
The officer then responded and said, “Well, I’m going to issue both of you guys a citation.” When Jordan inquired what the citation was for, the officer said it was “Code violation 1445,” which would have meant that Jordan was receiving a citation for not wearing a life jacket.
However, Jordan noted that he had, in fact, been wearing a life jacket the entire time—as is clearly documented in the video. In response, the officer said, “No, you didn’t have that on, sir.”
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Jordan stood his ground, and insisted that the cameras he and Yaptengco were using to film their underwater video showed that he was wearing a life jacket at the time they were approached by the officer. In response, the officer insisted that he also had documentation of the encounter on the police-issued body camera he was wearing.
When Jordan began questioning the logic behind the officer’s claim that Jordan was not wearing a life jacket when he was in the water, and then he magically had the time to find one and put one on as he and Yaptengco approached the shore, the officer changed his strategy, and began talking directly to Yaptengco—who was not wearing a life jacket.
Jordan continued to question the officer, who insisted that the only way he would not issue Jordan a citation was if he reviewed the footage from his body camera, and saw that Jordan was, in fact, wearing the same life jacket the entire time.
“What I do for you, okay, I turned my camera on when I walked over here,” the officer said. “And if it shows you with that on, you won’t get a citation. Plain and simple … You got a camera and I got a camera. If my camera shows that you had that on, then you’re good.”
“So I’m guilty until proven innocent?” Jordan replied. “This is incredible … as much as we do for this city, and you’re going to give me a hard time about this, when I clearly have this on.”
The officer proceeded to justify the encounter by insisting that Yaptengco needed a citation because he was not wearing a life jacket. Even though Jordan was wearing a life jacket—which the officer criticized, because both the jacket and his shirt underneath were black—the officer went on to threaten Jordan by saying that if he ever caught him without a life jacket, he would receive a citation.
Jordan said that Yaptengco now owes a $250 fine for the citation he received for swimming in the river without a life jacket.
As The Free Thought Project has documented on numerous occasions, the Police State is alive and well in the U.S., and police often waste their time pursuing victimless crimes, such as issuing citations to children who are running a lemonade stand without a permit in California, or children who are mowing lawns without a permit in Alabama.
In the case of Jordan and Yaptengco’s “river treasure” filming adventure, which substituted as a trash cleanup, it could be argued that if they had chosen not to wear life jackets, and they had encountered trouble in the river, they would have faced the consequences for their own actions. As for the officer who questioned them, it could also be argued that he had better things to do with his taxpayer-funded time.
Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.