The incident took place on Tuesday in front of the Alameda Courthouse in Oakland when an officer, identified by the
Burch, policy director of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) and several protestors were on the Oakland courthouse steps to listen to a broadcast of the pre-trial hearing for police officer Jason Fletcher, who was charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Steven Taylor, a black man, in a Walmart last year,
Burch and Sgt. Shelby are discussing the banner when in the middle of the conversation the sergeant is captured pulling out his cellphone and pressing play on Taylor Swift’s 2014 hit ‘Blank Space’
Burch and Sgt. Shelby are discussing the banner when in the middle of the conversation the sergeant is captured pulling out his cellphone and pressing play on Taylor Swift’s 2014 hit ‘Blank Space’.
As the pop song plays a confused Burch asks the officer ‘are we having a dance party now?’
The person recording the confrontation asks Shelby if he is playing the music to drown out the conversation.
The officer then he tells her: ‘You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube.’
Shelby seemed to confirm he was taking advantage of YouTube’s copyright takedown policy, which removes content that contains unauthorized use of music.
As the pop song continues to play Burch asks Shelby: ‘Is that procedure?’
‘I’m just listening to music, sir,’ Shelby replies.
Shelby tells Burch and the person recording the confrontation ‘You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube’
The Alameda County sheriff’s office told the
‘The officer was trying to be a little smart, and it kind of backfired,’ office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told the Post. ‘Instead of censoring it, it made it go viral.’
Kelly added that there is no policy barring an officer from playing copyrighted music when being filmed but ‘there is a code of conduct on how we should carry ourselves in public,’ Kelly said.
Kelly told the Post that the sheriff’s office does not ‘condone’ the deputy’s behavior.
‘This is not a good look for law enforcement,’ he said, adding there is a ‘serious lesson learned here.’
Burch told the Post he was troubled by Shelby’s attempt to keep the confrontation from being uploaded.
‘Any tactic by law enforcement to attempt to either prevent activists from recording or chill our attempts to do so is incredibly concerning,’ he told the Post. ‘After the murder of George Floyd, everyone understands why organizers and activists record our interactions with law enforcement.’