(From IJ Review) According to his website, Washington state resident Gavin Seim is “a constitutional activist and speaker with a message” about “liberty, government accountability and how we can get there.” He is also “a small business owner, a Christian and a father.”
On October 14th, apparently acting in his role as a constitutional activist, Seim posted a video to YouTube depicting an encounter with a Grant, Washington, sheriff’s deputy.
Seim flags down the officer and, while citing a section of the Revised Code of Washington, condemns the officer for driving an unmarked police car in violation of state law.
The officer remains calm throughout but seems unfamiliar with the law Seim references. At the end of the video Seim delivers a monologue, during which he appears to acknowledge that his actions are a bit over the top:
Some people may say, “Well, this is petty. Leave the officers alone, Gavin.”
It’s not petty to hold our police accountable. This isn’t just one issue. This isn’t just about police or sheriff. It’s not one thing. It’s accountability.
It’s the lawlessness we see all across America where government disdains the people and disdains the law and thinks that they’re above the law.
We can’t allow that. We, the people, are the sentinels of our liberty. The Constitution is a law that we placed on government. We, the people, must hold them accountable to the law.
These guys are obligated to respect law and liberty and to follow the rules that we, the people, placed upon them.
While Seim’s actions seem rude to some, he does make some strong, stirring arguments. In addition, he makes a compelling point about the fear and confusion citizens might face in the event they are stopped by an unmarked police car and aren’t sure whether it’s really an officer pulling them over.
The law also appears to be on his side. According to section 1 of the relevant portion of RCW 46.08.065:
Publicly owned vehicles to be marked — Exceptions.
It is unlawful for any public officer having charge of any vehicle owned or controlled by any county, city, town, or public body in this state other than the state of Washington and used in public business to operate the same upon the public highways of this state unless and until there shall be displayed upon such automobile or other motor vehicle in letters of contrasting color not less than one and one-quarter inches in height in a conspicuous place on the right and left sides thereof, the name of such county, city, town, or other public body, together with the name of the department or office upon the business of which the said vehicle is used.
This section shall not apply to vehicles of a sheriff’s office, local police department, or any vehicles used by local peace officers under public authority for special undercover or confidential investigative purposes. [emphasis added]
The exception does not appear to apply to the officer in the video– who admits that his vehicle isn’t registered for undercover work.
While Seim could come across as a jerk badgering a polite officer in this video, does he have a point? Is brazen disregard for the average citizen — an attitude that breeds an above-the-law superiority — trickling down from those in power?