A 55-year-old disabled veteran was labeled a “terrorist” by three county commissioners after he photographed security cameras at the Elbert County administration building in Colorado as part of an investigation, a designation the man claimed was retribution for him filing multiple open-records requests.
Elbert County resident Don Pippin took pictures of the security cameras back in April as part of an open-records request that sought to discover the cost of the surveillance system. An employee immediately reported Pippin to the commissioners for engaging in suspicious activity.
“After the commissioners met on the issue, “(Commissioner Kurt) Schlegel asked for and received a temporary court order barring Pippin from the building, saying the back of his hair stood up when he saw what he says was footage of Pippin “casing” the building for a possible attack,” reports the Denver Post.
Schlegel called Pippin a “terrorist” and attempted to secure a permanent protection order against him, but a judge threw the request out, noting that Pippin posed no threat to anybody.
Pippin charges that the commissioners were attempting to frame and demonize him as a terrorist as a reprisal for his routine filing of open records requests.
Pippin and his attorney are now seeking $2.4 million in damages from the three commissioners who characterized him as a terrorist, $1 million for emotional distress, $500,000 for loss of enjoyment of life and $900,000 for impairment of future earning capacity.
“It’s been a very emotional thing for him,” Pippin’s attorney, Terry Wallace, told the Denver Post. “When that county judge said, ‘You’ve been accused of being a terrorist — are you aware of that?’ That’s when it set in.”
As we have previously documented, the characterization of people who both film surveillance cameras and those who ask questions of their government as terrorists is rampant in America.
A 2011 Department of Homeland Security PSA depicted photographers who “hang around for no apparent reason” as terrorists and encouraged the public to report them to authorities.