Photography Is Not A Crime of the Day: The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department alleging the harassment, unlawful detainment, and improper searching of multiple photographers whose only “crime” was snapping photos in a public place.
“Photography is not a crime. It’s protected 1st Amendment expression,” senior staff attorney for ACLU SoCal Peter Bibring told the Los Angeles Times. “It violates the Constitution’s core protections for sheriff’s deputies to detain and search people who are doing nothing wrong. To single them out for such treatment while they’re pursuing a constitutionally protected activity is doubly wrong.”
In their suit, the ACLU cite at least six incidents involving three photographers who were detained while photographing in public.
In one case, as the video above shows, professional photographer and photographer rights advocate Shawn “discarted” Nee was stopped and searched by Deputy Richard Gylfie. The ACLU says Nee complained, but the Sherrif’s department did nothing.
Bibring says police take the post-9/11 policy of “suspicious activity reporting” too far, and demands a court order preventing the Sheriff’s Department from detaining people simply for snapping photos.
“Should we really ignore suspicious activity?” responded LA County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker when asked to comment. “We have an obligation to the public to answer questions and we are going to ask people why are you taking that picture. It is our duty to protect the public.”
The department would not comment on specific incidents.
I’ve been watching this for a while, and I decided to comment on this. The incident in the video is just plain stupidity from the “photographer”s side. I use the term loosely because he isn’t a photographer. If he was, he wouldn’t be this stupid. This is just someone who is trying to incite bullshit against the law.
If you are ever stopped, this is how you should act: you remain calm, and you answer the questions. The police officer has the RIGHT to inquire on your actions if he thinks you are suspicious. You, as a citizen, have the obligation to answer the law enforcement officer in a polite and truthful manner. If you are asked why you are taking pictures, then you answer with WHY you are taking pictures. Nothing else. I am willing to bet Shawn Nee was standing around looking suspicious and that’s why he was approached by the sheriff. That’s just stupid behaviour and you are asking to be detained. Remember, refusing to cooperate with the law is grounds for you to be detained.
Shawn was not detained until he refused to cooperate. Nothing more. The police officer asked him why he is taking pictures. He didn’t answer. He just spewed out that he has the right to take pictures. That is refusing to cooperate. The police officer did NOT SAY HE DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT. There is a slight difference between the two.
It’s important to understand where the security officer is coming from. Refusing to cooperate only makes it more difficult for photographers in the future. Actions like this push away photography rights decades. While I do not support all the heat that photographers are getting, it is VERY important to approach this the right way. If not done properly, then you’ll end up screwing the rights for every other photographer.
Dear Shawn Nee, do me a favor in the future, and don’t fight for my rights as a photographer, because you’re doing it wrong.