Aug 14, 2012

The War On Photography Continued

Assault on Photography Continues

Photography continues to be a source of conflict across the country, especially as more people are carrying phones that take pictures and video, and legally using them to document not only their interactions with the police, but of things they see every day.

You have a camera. This could affect you as well.

Mickey H. Osterreicher is the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association and edits the organization’s Advocacy Committee blog.  The New York Times has an excellent interview with Osterreicher in which he describes the increasing amount of harassment people are facing from the police and security personnel, erroneously citing terrorism as a reason to suppress people's rights to take pictures in public. There is also a shocking amount of ignorance by police about what is legal and what is not. It is well worth reading, so that if you are confronted about taking pictures, you know what your rights are.

Many police (not all) contend that people taking pictures of them endanger them, citing terrorism as an excuse. However, there is no evidence that terrorists took photographs of any of their targets. None. Yet the rationale continues.
  • Timothy McVeigh, who used explosives to attack a courthouse, took no pictures
  • The raid on Osama Bin Ladin's compound revealed no photographs of intended targets
  • The terrorists who attacked the Word Trade Center took no photographs of the Twin Towers complex
Many police departments view advocates of photography as being anti-police, but this is simply not the case. Police have a great deal of power. They can detain you, deprive you of your freedoms, issue citations that can cost you a great deal of money, time and stress, all of which give them the power to intimidate. Such power demands oversight. If the police can record us, there is no justification for preventing us from recording our encounters with them. There is nothing anti-police in this at all.

Stay Calm and Respectful

In this video that takes place in Tampa, at the federal courthouse building, both the officer and the photographer are calm and respectful; indeed they have a reasonable debate about the rights of photographers in public places. There is no reason for such encounters to become confrontational; watch how the photographer stays calm as he debates the officer and stands up for his rights. This is how to conduct yourself during such an encounter.

A Terry Stop, by the way, is a legal term, meaning a brief detention by the police based on a reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in a crime, but without enough probable cause to make an arrest. If you are detained by the police you have to provide identification when asked. If you are not being detained by the police, than in many cases you are not legally required to provide identification. Read more about Terry Stops HERE. 

Jump to :34 to where the officer approaches the photographer

In the video below, activist Jimmy Justice explains how to safely and respectfully stand up for your rights when faced with demands that you stop legally taking pictures or video. Justice expresses a respect for police, and the difficult jobs they perform, while advocating a respectful, reasoned response.

Remember, the rights you have as Americans you have only because they were defended. If you do not exercise these rights, you will find you no longer have them

LINK to Photography Is Not A Crime, Carlos Miller's excellent pro-photography blog

LINK to The National Press Photographers Association, a tireless advocate of the rights of all photographers

No comments: