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CSUSB professor interviewed for article on ‘1st Amendment auditors’Los Angeles TimesFeb. 16, 2019 Brian Levin, director of the Cal State San Bernardino Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, was interviewed for an article about Zhoie Perez, a YouTube personality known for testing the limits of the 1st Amendment, who on Feb. 14 got into an altercation that provoked a security guard at a Los Angeles synagogue to fire a shot that grazed her leg. Perez is a self-proclaimed “1st Amendment auditor” — a phenomenon that started in the last two years. According Levin, the “audits” usually involve people provoking police or others near sensitive locations who might challenge their right to assemble or film in a public space. “These are folks that like to leverage social media by going into public places, where they have a right to be, and testing the reactions to them by property owners and law enforcement,' Levin said. 'What’s interesting is, it can go across the ideological spectrum. It’s a movement, but it’s broad.” The movement has some roots among those who advocate for the rights to carry firearms openly, according to Levin, but the recent surge in 'auditing' activity has more to do with large social media followings than any coherent political ideology. Perez has more than 18,000 YouTube followers. “The Constitution protects even obnoxious gadflies, but I do have to step back for a second and say at a time when Germany, France, Britain and the U.S. have seen significant spikes in anti-Semitic hate crime, that to do this, is certainly constitutionally protected, but also seems to skirt common sense,' Levin said. Although Levin did not know of Perez's activities before Thursday, he warned that, in general, some provocateurs may simply latch onto the auditor movement to gain notoriety. “Most of the people involved in this have a goal of sincerely illustrating 1st Amendment restrictions, but there are some who are more into goading conflict, and others who are into instant celebrity,” he said. Read the complete article at “How a popular YouTube activist got shot outside an L.A. synagogue.” Fox News picked up a portion of the LA Times interview and posted it at “Online activists' 'First Amendment audits' -- patriotism or provocation?”
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