Port of Seattle Police Officer Greg Anderson placed on paid administrative leave after uploading video on social media urging cops not to enforce stay at home orders.
A police officer challenges authority…
A police officer in Washington state has been placed on administrative leave after he uploaded a video to Instagram urging fellow cops not to enforce the state’s ‘unconstitutional’ stay-at-home orders, comparing them to Nazi Germany.
Officer Greg Anderson with the Port of Seattle Police Department posted the nine-minute video on May 6, in which he appears in uniform and while sat in his patrol car.
The 10-year veteran says in the clip that citing or arresting people in relation to what he called ‘tyrannical’ social distancing orders amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is a violation of one’s constitutional rights.
‘I want to remind you that regardless of where you stand on the coronavirus, we don’t have the authority to do those things to people just because a mayor or a governor tells you otherwise,’ Anderson says in the video since posted on YouTube. ‘We don’t get to violate people’s constitutional rights because somebody in our chain of command tells us otherwise.’
Anderson says he’s disturbed by the idea that people would be violating the law by ‘going to church, for traveling on the roadways, for going surfing, opening their businesses, going to the park with their families or doing nails out of their own house using their own house as a place of business.
‘Telling people, they can’t protest, freedom of assembly. Fourth Amendment violations, illegal traffic stops to check for papers. What are you, the Gestapo? Is this 1930s Nazi Germany?’ Anderson says.
‘I’m imploring officers to look inside themselves and ask themselves, “Is this what I want to be doing to my citizens?”’ he added.
The officer refused a number of requests from superiors to delete the post, which led to a call from his boss, Port of Seattle Police Chief Rod Covey.
In a May 11 Instagram post, Anderson said Covey told him, ‘If you openly defy your governor, you can’t be a police officer in the state of Washington.’
Anderson, a US Army veteran, was then told by the department and the police union that he would likely be charged with insubordination and subsequently terminated if he held firm with his refusal to remove the video.
He has now been placed on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation.
A patriot or reckless?
Officer Anderson has since stated he has no regrets about uploading the video and has doubled-down on his beliefs.
In a lengthy statement posted on the Port of Seattle Police Department’s Facebook page, Covey explained the department’s reaction to Anderson’s post.
The police chief called Anderson a ‘good police officer’ and an ‘exceptional American’, but said officers are not allowed to express their personal opinions while on duty.
‘Greg has always had the ability to express his opinions on what is going on in the country like all other Americans,’ Covey wrote in the post. ‘However, he is not allowed to do so while on duty, wearing our uniform, wearing our badge and while driving our patrol car. Every police officer in the country understands that.
‘I personally told this to Greg and told him that I would support his right to talk about these issues as long as he did so while not claiming any affiliation to our police department,’ he continued. ‘Greg has chosen this course of action even after he and I spoke and while also knowing that his actions were outside of well-established policy.’
Anderson’s stance has divided opinion online. Many have branded the officer reckless or an ‘idiot’, amid the ongoing public health crises, while others have applauded his ‘heroism’ and ‘patriotism’ for speaking out and have started GoFundMe pages to help raise money to hire a lawyer for him.
One of those fundraisers had amassed more than $372,277 raised of $50,000 goal in donations as of Wednesday night.
Anderson joins the likes of Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney, who last month said he also refused to enforce Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home orders, believing them to be a constitutional violation.
‘I believe that preventing business owners to operate their businesses and provide for their families intrudes on our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ Fortney wrote, paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence, which is a separate document from the U.S. Constitution. ‘As your elected Sheriff I will always put your constitutional rights above politics or popular opinion.’
Gov. Inslee has relaxed shutdown rules in some rural areas, but stay-at-home orders remain in place for the Seattle area. Starting May 18, residents in Seattle and King County will be urged to wear face masks in public in a bid to help further contain the ongoing coronavirus.
As of Thursday morning there had been 18,281 cases of coronavirus and 975 deaths in Washington state.