In May of this year, Steve Hindi of the animal rights group SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) alleged that he was stopped illegally in the state of Oregon by the Malheur County Sherriff’s Office. Now new footage from the sheriff’s own video has proven him right.
Hindi, who made his own recording of the incident and posted it on the Internet, was told by Deputy Brian Belnap that he was trespassing on the grounds of the Jordan Valley Rodeo. Belnap went on to claim that the reason they had to stop Hindi was because he was driving a rental car and they needed to obtain his identification.
When Hindi explained to the officer that he had paid the $10 admittance fee and wasn’t trespassing, Belnap then told Hindi that he was kicked out for having a camera.
Several states in the U.S. have passed anti-whistleblower bills, otherwise known as “ag-gag” bills, which prevent whistleblowers, animal rights activists and even journalists from filming or taking photos without the consent of animal enterprise industries such as factory farms, etc.
After Hindi’s encounter with the sheriffs, SHARK launched an investigation into the connections between the Malheur County Sheriff’s Department, accusing it of violation of free speech and using intimidation tactics. SHARK found that the Sheriff’s Department has direct ties to the rodeo, with one of the deputies even being on the rodeo’s board.
The Jordan Valley Rodeo has previously come under fire from animal rights activists for practices that many believe are cruel to animals.
Hindi filed a request under Oregon’s public disclosure laws to obtain the video the officers recorded on their dash cam and body cameras. The footage reveals that the officers knew they were violating Hindi’s rights, even saying so themselves — all the while unaware that they were still recording.
Hindi put together a video that narrates and compares the sheriff’s recording to his, demonstrating that the officers’ actions were premeditated.
Watch the video below.