Wiretapping punishment leads to protest
SALISBURY, Md. – On Friday afternoon protestors gathered outside of Salisbury’s City Hall to raise concerns about a local wiretapping case.
Jake Burdett, a 21-year-old Salisbury University student, was charged with two felonies, but in court on Friday took a deal. Burdett will be on probation for three years, complete 100 hours of community service, and pay some court fees.
“As you can imagine this is a tough process to go through but having the community support me has made it easier and I really do appreciate all of the support.,” said Burdett in front of about 30 supporters at Salisbury’s City Hall.
“We will protest when they do things that we disagree with,” said Toby Perkins, a friend and supporter. “We will continue to exercise our right to free speech.”
Just hours before the area was infiltrated by protestors Burdett met quietly with 47 ABC saying he was sorry for live-streaming a meeting with Congressman Andy Harris’ staffers in October. Burdett claims he didn’t know it was against the law to record a conversation without the permission of all parties. He also shared his thoughts about the crime he was charged with and the law that allows the state of Maryland to enforce it.
“I don’t think that me being prosecuted for this is illegal in any way,” said Burdett. “I think there is jurisdiction under the law to do this, but I don’t think it was absolutely necessary.”
Burdett says the judge who presided over his case agreed and said in court that the state’s wiretapping law is behind the times and needs to be updated.
“Maybe the Maryland state law should be amended to exempt public officials so they don’t have the same privacy rights and expectations as a private citizens,” said Burdett.
Outside city hall on Friday, many agreed and vowed to battle beside Burdett who has promised to take the fight to Annapolis.
“It’s sort of using that outrage to build momentum for a movement to amend the state law for a public official so that we can ensure that we have transparent government and the right to record our officials in a public place when they talk about public issues,” said Burdett.
Despite his feelings about the law as it is written, Burdett says he is thankful that the state offered probation before judgement.