Armed with cellphones, cameras and sometimes handguns, these self-described “First Amendment auditors” traipse through government buildings, roam the halls of police departments and wander around airports and natural gas plants across the country.
Usually refusing to identify themselves, they zoom in on officers and employees, calling them by name and often making them visibly uncomfortable — some even frightened. Occasionally — and especially if the encounters become confrontational — they stream their videos live, prompting their viewers to call the police departments and other offices to protest what they say is wrongful treatment of the “auditors.” The videos are then posted on YouTube, where they receive thousands of views and elicit a barrage of comments.
The audits have ramped up in the past year, with Roth focusing extensively in recent months on the Kansas City area and in other Kansas and Missouri towns. He’s filmed at police stations and government buildings in Kansas City, Liberty, Raytown, Parkville, Independence, Shawnee and Overland Park, among others.