(LifeSiteNews) — Groundbreaking undercover journalist James O’Keefe is suing the governor of Hawaii over an “Emergency Proclamation” that prohibits taking photos of the fire-devastated area of Lahaina for investigative purposes.
Together with attorney Mike Yoder, the Project Veritas founder argues that Hawaii’s governor has violated the First Amendment by “unilaterally criminaliz[ing] the constitutional right to a free press” and free speech.
Their lawsuit describes how Yoder, referred to as “John Doe,” was criminally charged for taking photos while reporting on the recently deadly Maui fires despite his “well-established First Amendment right to report on matters of public concern.”
Yoder was charged under a revised statute recently added to Hawaii’s legal code that grants “additional powers” to the government in an “emergency period,” including the power to “suspend electronic media transmission.”
The emergency statute also allows the government to destroy property; suspend any law “detrimental to the expeditious and efficient execution of… emergency functions;” and quarantine anyone “believed to have been exposed to any infectious” disease or who is the “source of other contamination.”
O’Keefe and Yoder argue in their lawsuit that Democrat Hawaii Gov. Josh Green “did not have the authority to promulgate his own rules, and even if he did, any rule he issues must not run afoul of the rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution.”
The plaintiffs pointed to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”
“If we don’t have freedom of the press, if we don’t have the freedom of speech and people are kept in the dark as to what the government is doing and what is going on, then there’s no way to ever have a people-led or people-controlled society,” Yoder told O’Keefe on Maui as he explained the lawsuit.
WATCH: James O’Keefe and Attorney Mike Yoder have filed a lawsuit against Hawaii Governor to invalidate the criminalization of protected First Amendment activity.
Yoder’s mission is twofold: End the suppression of electronic media and eliminate criminal provisions against free… pic.twitter.com/ml54hYnanp
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) September 15, 2023
Citizen journalist Geoff Cygnus had previously shared a video to TikTok showing “Miles and miles of black fencing being put up in Lahaina,” where fires ravaged over 1,000 Hawaiian homes, remarking that “there seems to be a huge emphasis on ensuring that the media and anyone else can’t see what’s going on.”
Prominent commentators such as Dr. Joseph Mercola have questioned whether the fires were the result of an intentional “land grab operation.” They point to claims that a contract was signed in 2022 “to build high rise condos and businesses in Lahaina, which was a historical town that couldn’t have any new development done to it,” as well as plans for a SmartGrid project on the island, and strange anomalies regarding the temperature and scope of the fires.