Police Incident at Downtown Library

Screenshot of johnny five-o video / YouTube

Source: Santa Barbara Police Department

[Monday] afternoon at approximately 2:15 P.M., the Santa Barbara Police Department received a call from Santa Barbara Central Library staff requesting assistance with a male subject allegedly violating the Library’s rules of conduct.

At approximately 2:55 P.M., two Santa Barbara Police Officers responded to the site and contacted the subject who videoed parts of his interaction with the officers. The subject was arrested for trespassing and resisting or delaying an officer, both misdemeanors. After being medically cleared, the subject was transferred to the Santa Barbara County Jail.

The subject’s video was being live-streamed to social media and received an abundance of interest from social media followers. We ask members of the public who have any information regarding this incident to contact the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Professional Standards Unit at 805-897-2398.

The Santa Barbara Department is committed to continued openness and transparency with the public they serve.

Update by edhat staff

A man who refers to himself online as “Johnny Five O” was arrested on Monday afternoon for refusing to leave the Santa Barbara Public Library.

According to the Santa Barbara Police Department, staff of the library contacted the department for a man who was videotaping in their library violating their rules of conduct and refused to leave. Johnny Five O admits he had been videotaping for more than an hour before police arrived, as stated in his video.

The Santa Barbara City Library rules of conduct state “recording, photographing, or filming persons in the library without prior consent from the Library Director or designee and from the person(s) being recorded, photographed, or filmed” will result in the offender being asked to leave the premises immediately. It goes on to state that those who fail to comply may be forcibly removed resulting in a citation or arrest.

The video was being live-streamed on social media causing an influx of views and comments from people throughout the U.S. with some prompting calls to the library and police department. It currently has over 36,000 views.

Several online blogs and social media campaigns advocate for “First Amendment audits” in public places, specifically targeting public libraries. The individuals claim they have a right to film in any space accessible to the public, arguing that they’re entitled to do so as taxpayers and citizen journalists. 

“Based on their output, their goal is to create videos of their encounters with police, security officers, and public officials that document a claimed violation of the camera person’s First Amendment rights. The video is then posted to YouTube or other social media, and used as evidence for a legal claim against the targeted agency or its officers and officials,” wrote Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

According to the law, there is a difference between a traditional public forum and facilities opened to the public for a specific use, like a library or courthouse. Libraries are considered limited public forums, in accordance with the First Amendment, where the government agency administering the space is only obligated to allow those First Amendment activities that are consistent with the nature of the forum, according to the Office for Intellectual Freedom. 

The full video is found below:


Written by Anonymous

What do you think?


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  1. My concern is this drama queen railing against dogs being in a the library. Betcha 20 to nothing the dogs are better groomed and a whole lot cleaner than the “unsheltered” hanging out in the library. Poor Public Library staff having to deal daily with bedraggled vagrants and now this Johnny Zero pos.

  2. The police seemed to escalate a fairly minor trespass to a violent encounter very quickly. Notice the man was never told he was under arrest – just tackled. This person had multiple cameras so it wouldn’t surprise me if charges are dropped. I don’t think everything was done by the book here.

  3. Being a total idiot is legal. The officer jumped the shark when he put his hands on this person at the beginning of the encounter. There may be a few other things the officer ultimately gets reprimanded for. The photographer wasn’t told he was under arrest until the officer tackled him. The escalation to violence on behalf of the police was fast. There are several other recordings from the photographers body cameras and from his female companion that haven’t been released yet.

  4. I noticed that the policeman put his hands on the subject at the beginning of the encounter. There were no lawful orders given as far as I could tell while the man was leaving the building. The officer tackled the subject and then told him he was under arrest. I don’t see an opportunity where he could comply.

  5. When I told my life partner about this “incident,” he commented, “The Public Library? I saw a guy washing his feet in the toilet there the other day. Question is: which was cleaner—–his feet or the toilet?”

  6. Good. Enforce those rules of conduct to the letter. Tragic what happened to our beloved public library, watching it turn into the seedy streets of San Francisco instead of a vital community hub. One more reason we need new blood on the county board of supervisors in District One and District Three. Vote change this time. Current political status quo has failed us badly at every level locally. You have choices this election. Exercise your ability to change what is no longer working.

  7. I agree 8:14. It is truly sad to see how the library and surrounding area has devolved. I hope things change in the next election, but I am doubtful. I fear the city will need to hit rock bottom before things can start to get better, and I think we have a long way to go. I have a feeling the city will continue moving in the same direction politically with predictable results. I would suggest avoiding areas like the library in the meantime. Things will turn around eventually, but not until we acknowledge that our current political approach is failing.

  8. My friend witnessed a burglar exiting a window at La Cumbre Jr High at 10:30am on a Sunday morning and when they called it in, they were told that no one was available to respond. Took them about 30 minutes to send a couple of units and by that time the burglar was long gone. So don’t count on the police for help unless your emergency is worse than the others occurring at the same time?

  9. Something’s wrong with the system when 40 minutes is considered “good” response time. I hope you’re right that more important things were going on. I’ve called for a horrific DUI in progress (following the driver, who eventually parked) and SBPD never showed up! I waited for over an hour. It was extremely disheartening.

  10. That’s NO surprise seeing how the SBPD usually waits to request the public’s assistance to help solve crimes after a period of at least three weeks passes. They always have an excuse too. Keystone Cops 2020 version

  11. 8:54 – I’ve called in DUIs in progress as well with no success. It’s disheartening to have someone almost kill you and then the police start interrogating you over the phone and then never follow through and the driver gets away. What’s the point?

  12. Chip: Local voters must first feel comfortable voting against the Democrat Central Committee endorsements, the SB Independent political, endorsements, the candidates who are reported to have raised the most cash, mainly from public employee union member war chests, who send out the most glossy mailers loaded with emotional images and buzzwords, and pound their neighborhoods getting out the votes anyway they can. That is lot of disengagement to ask from local voters, who curiously always complain nothing changes, but never feel secure enough to actually vote for change when it has been presented to them. Voters must start questioning if it is still a good idea to keep the county, city and school union backed candidates sitting on both sides of the bargain table, when it comes to setting agendas and allocating public employee union compensation packages. Voters do like knowing city, county or school employees like and support one candidate over the other. Yet that has landed us in the unsustainable mess we currently find ourselves in – with no clear exit sign in place. Just more of the same. How to get local voters to vote against the blatantly self-serving city, county and school union self-interests interests and be willing to vote for their own best interests instead because far too often these interests simply do not align for the greater public good.. -That is the hurdle.

  13. Readers seem to be conflating a few issues here.
    1. The library has reasonable rules and a duty to enforce them;
    2. The police response does seem slow, but response time depends on what other calls are being responded to at the same time;
    3. This has nothing to do with the Democratic Party or who holds seats in the City Council or County Board of Supervisors;
    4. The person who was recording and was warned, then arrested seems like a jerk, that he has instigating a situation and attempting to make it worse.
    5. The police on the scene, at least those in the video, seemed reasonable and polite in their interaction with a difficult person.

  14. We have a homeless crisis in this state and in this town. Sadly, these people have few to no indoor places to go, so they go places like the library, and make it totally disgusting. That being said, if this person was violating the libraries’ code of conduct then they need to GTFO

  15. the SBPD building is only 1 block away…
    and I’ve seen the video. SBPD really needs some training….big time. i have several friends on the force. They agree with two things. Training sucks, and Lori is a great boss compared to her predecessor…

  16. Hahaha. That was one of my first thoughts, after I watched this ridiculousness on video: Too bad they didn’t taser the guy. Mustn’t use the ‘F’ word with police, unless you want to experience the reaction you deserve. (Johnny 5-0. Like he’s some Jack Lord good guy or some such. Tuh.)

  17. Watching this video is very disturbing. It’s clear this guy intended to provoke the cops. He starts off by saying I’ve been here filming for an hour, and the police are finally here. He’s argumentative when they arrive. He’s also from LA. Why is here here in SB filming without a permit? Clearly not a serious fillm-maker.
    And the audio is posted on the Johnny Five Oh channel? I smell deliberate cop-baiting for eyeballs here.
    I wish he hadn’t picked SB for this stunt.
    Not cool at all.

  18. 326, fair enough, considering the every day population of the library and how many people there are homeless and have mental illness and drug and alcohol addictions, it was an assumption on my part that the person biotin the code of behavior was one of the population. Beyond that, yeah, many, many homeless people have cell phones, you can see them plugging in to charge them at any outlet they can find publicly.

  19. Did you watch to the end of the video? It’s totally branded. This was a publicity stunt! The perpetrator is on social media with the handle Johnny Five Oh, and his brand is Cameras Everywhere: Constitutional Compliance Auditor, Gadfly Ethnographer.
    People, do not get in an uproar over this. The guy totally intended to provoke to get himself some attention.

  20. Hmm…I am not a student of the law. Sadly, I only know the “essence” of the Bill of Rights. I feel extremely unqualified to comment. However, this is the internet. Regardless of our 1st Amendment right, I think that this kind of activity demonstrated by this man is childish.
    The sovereign citizen as I see it, is someone who has or who thinks that they have a firm and complete understanding of city, county, state, and federal laws. Additionally, those people, from what I have seen, tend to be narcissistic and self-righteous trouble makers. It seems that those who actively call out a rule, the law, or a condition are making a mountain out of a molehill.
    Pertaining to this situation only and with limited the limited context provided, it seems to me that things could have been handled differently by all parties involved. The police could have been much more aggressive and confrontational. Likewise, they could have also been less physical when they were in contact with the man. The man who was filming could have exercised his 1st Amendment right, which he did, and he could have also looked to see if filming was permitted on the premises. It can also be said that the man could have been more cooperative with the police when they showed up on scene.
    I feel like one should be respectful to themselves, their surroundings, and to other people. Who knows how this would have turned out if the man responded in a respectful manner. One can argue both ends of this. However, personally, I am annoyed by situations like this, I think we need to accurately educate ourselves, exercise our rights in a respectful manner, and to know that by simply addressing someone as “sir” does not mean that they are being respectful.
    Rant over.

  21. 11:41 – You hit the nail on the head. Especially in this town – people call in if they see a neighbor watering their lawn, or a dog off a leash, or hear a loud noise. The worst part is, a lot of comments on posts here encourage “being safe” and just calling the cops any time they see someone doing anything “suspicious” (eg, smoking in public). Sorry, but folks should really think of others who may be experiencing real crime before calling the cops for simple complaints

  22. Zero, what is a great boss in the police dept? One who backs large union pay increases and never punishes cops that act inappropriately? Or one that does the things a manager in private industry is supposed to do like mentoring and training? Just want to know what standard is being applied here.

  23. 077–not to nitpick, but the fact that he has a camera and posts on youtube doesn’t mean he’s not homeless.
    Can you state with certainty that he has a home? Also, I would argue that he’s not a photojournalist, he’s just a public nuisance trying to make money by manufacturing controversy and confrontation under the color of being a civil rights activist. Nope.

  24. You know what? Many years ago I was ticketed for running a red light. The officer lied so much in court it was obvious he had no clue as to what the truth of the matter was to begin with. I hadn’t run a red, I made the yellow light with time to spare. When he pulled me over, I was extremely cooperative with him. In court the officer lied and said I ran a red light——- turning left AFTER coming to a full stop. He went so far as to say he was sitting in traffic RIGHT NEXT TO ME when I made this illegal turn (Uh . . . okay.) This illegal left turn was a major impossibilty, as the oncoming traffic (a VERY busy intersection) would have gone haywire if I’d tried to turn left while my light was red and theirs was green. I fought the ticket and even went so far as to go to the police station and uncover the fact (later that day) that the officer did have a ride-along as I had stated in my court case. Of course he had a ride-along, but lied about that, too. Plus the officer never remembered seeing my 110-lb huge fluffburger of a dog in my car (what?) The judge decided against me. I did have the satisfaction of asking the officer (as he preceded me out of the court room and down the hall) how he felt about lying as he did. You should have seen how red the back of his neck turned. Upshot is: if the officer lies, then your goose is cooked. C’est la vie. And thanks for letting me tell my story. Not all officers lie, but when they do they sure can tell some whoppers.

  25. Officer ortega is a known corrupt lying police officer. This women pulled me over 12 years ago and completely lied about me running a red light. The only thing I did was take a very wide turn in my large truck. She is a liar and should not be a police officer.

  26. Have seen Officer Ortega lie & refuse to honor her oath twice towards me. She has the bedside manner of a sniper. I immediately went to the police station on Figueroa, and explained what happened, her commanding Officer asked who did this, I said “Ortega”, he shook his head and apologized profusely. She wrote me a parking ticket while I was sitting in the car because my bumper was one inch in the red, and she refused to let me move my car one inch forward. Her behavior is almost always below minimum level for a police officer.
    There are good Cops in S. B., but she is a bad one, that S.B. Police Commanders know about,
    but are unwilling or unable to do the right thing.
    Santa Barbara deserves better!

  27. Rinconer, i’ve dealt with her as well. She gets people in my nieghborhood at Bath and Cota that run the stop signs. I’ve also talked to her at Solstice and Fiesta. She’s a tough one for sure, but she does have a nice side….ive got her to smile and laugh twice…stunning but it can happen. i know and grew up with several of our PD officers and right now, we have a lot of VERY good police on the force. Unlike prior decades…

  28. Jay, what would it take to make you a better “student of the law”? Easier than you might think. A good start is the Readers Digest classic “You and the Law.” Everyone living in this unique country should have a copy close at hand. We all have a duty to know the law; as well as protect our basic rights the law grants.

  29. Stop parking in the red zone, even “just a teeeenie bit”….otherwise you get the ticket from nasty horrible police officers just doing what they were hired by us (and you) to do. It’s like complaining about being over the booze limit by hust a little bit, or stealing “only” a pack of gum…where dies it stop?

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