Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Photography As A Criminal Activity
I enjoy photography as a hobby. But my hobby might one day get me arrested.
--White Plains, NY. March 17, 2006. Freelance photographer Ben Hider notices the flags outside the county courthouse waving in the wind. When he takes a few shots of the flags, he ends up being hauled in by court police officers. The zealous officers frisk and interrogate him. Hider, a British citizen with a green card, is threatened with deportation. www.popphoto.com
--July 2006. Philadelphia. A man is arrested for taking a photograph from his backyard with a cell phone. The subject of his imaging: police cars in the street during the arrest of a drug dealer in the neighborhood. The cell phone photog, Neftaly Cruz, a college senior, was grabbed, cuffed, and taken to jail. A neighbor says she heard the officer tell Cruz that he should have went into his house and minded his own business instead of taking pictures. www.nbc10.com/news
--August 7, 2006. New York City. The New York Civil Liberties Union expands its federal lawsuit in regards to NYPD officers unlawfully detaining and threatening photographers. The filing expands on a lawsuit on behalf of Rakesh Sharma, a documentary filmmaker who was detained last year for the act of being on a sidewalk and filming taxi cabs. www.nyclu.org
And I can also state that even a podunk like Plattsburgh, NY has had incidents of the city police leaning on someone just for taking a photograph. The officers have ordered the photographer to stop shooting and move along and also have even blocked his view. This is a violation of a little thing called the First Amendment.
Also, officers have demanded to see images taken with a digital camera via the LCD screen, a violation of a little thing called the Fourth Amendment.
What is going on? Don’t give me that terrorism crap. Most of these cases involve photography taken from public property of a scene or an event in plain public view.
Let’s use a bit of common sense: a halfway intelligent terrorist wouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb while taking photos to be somehow used for a violent act. He would take shots on the sly, using a concealed spy camera.
And with the way the police are acting towards photographers, it will turn out that only terrorists will end up with photographs, not law-abiding citizens.
Posted by Ray Palm (Ray X) at 2:12 AM