About our Rights: Photographing transit systems in the US

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Shawn Dougherty, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

    Messages:
    4,184
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2011
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,521
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That sounds more like Nazi Germany. I always thought the Baltimore cops were too uninspired and donut-stultified to be bothered. Guess I was wrong.
     
  3. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

    Messages:
    697
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland, US
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    These were transit cops, not regular ones. They must really love their choo-choos. I saw the clip on the local news this morning; the higher-ups are embarrassed, to say the least. The "officer" spewing nonsense about the Patriot Act should be feeling pretty vulnerable right now, because they'll sacrifice him in a heartbeat to avoid a lawsuit they're guaranteed to lose.
     
  4. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,521
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Actually, I shouldn't be so hard on the Baltimore cops. They're a darned sight more competent than DC cops, some of whose motorcycle squad units look like Shriners on the mini-bikes. When I had some personal effects stolen out of my car, the Baltimore cops found them and returned them, which is far more than I can say about DC - my house was robbed twice and both times, there was this "eh, it's just another burglary" attitude. ITs as if the fact that I have homeowners insurance makes it ok, and that I wasn't really victimized.
     
  5. BrianL

    BrianL Member

    Messages:
    547
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Toronto ON C
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The cops obviously were digging a hole for themselves. The photographer asked multiple times as to what law he was alleged to have violated and each time got a different vaque answer. Unless they were charging him, he had a right to walk at any time. However, by having multiple cops there and acting as they did, they could be offside and liable for abuse of badge or position, unlawful restraint or false imprisonment. As the MTA has published that photos can be taken, the officers who are MTA employees have opened themselves and the MTA up to civic claims. The issue of the recording is under wire tapping laws and it only takes the permision of one of the participants to permit it and not all the participants. Hence, the photographer is permitted in most jurisdicitions t continue photographing the activity. Also, the officers are public figures and there is more permissive latitude in phtographing a public figure than a private citizen which is what they were citing to.

    I do not know about MD but many States have a statute requiring showing of identification upon request by an officer with no prior requirement of probable cause. Failure to do so is usally a criminal offence. If MD has such a statute, then he could have been charged.

    On the other side of the coin, they acted very civilly and with restraint. In more communities than one would imagine the photographer would have been charged with something and then been charge with resisting arrest to justify the bruises or worse.

    While I do not support the slide toards a police state that has occurred since 9/11 and think it is time to start reversing the trend, I think the photographer should have been a bit more cooperative and provided the identification. The shutting off of the camera, I agree he need not do as the officers voluntarily submitted themselves to being photographed by approaching him. He did not approach them.
     
  6. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

    Messages:
    697
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland, US
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Brian, wiretapping laws vary widely. Until last year, recording the officers in MD would have been considered a crime, since they did not explicitly consent. However, a judge overturned that law, ruling that police and public officials do not have the expectation of privacy when carrying out their duties in public (but that's probably something else these officers would get wrong).

    The MTA director has already admitted that he was NOT required to show ID.

    Really? As a MD resident, I found their behavior to be disgraceful and embarrassing. If they had used force, I would have been in favor of having them imprisoned for assault. As it is, if I were one of them, I'd be worried about keeping my job.
     
  7. rpsawin

    rpsawin Subscriber

    Messages:
    517
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Orrtanna, PA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I thought I heard one of the cops tell the guy to "decease and desist"...seems a bit harsh.

    Bob
     
  8. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    That's a little harsh, Scott. At least they were polite. Wrong, but polite. And the photographer was acting like an idiot. When asked "Are you refusing to show me your ID?" he should have either said "Yes" or shown the ID. IMHO he was provoking these cops.

    In Nazi Germany the brown shirts would've simply gone upside his head with nightsticks, not greeted him with "How are you, Sir? How ya doin' today?"

    Cops are people, too. I've never had any trouble with them when attempting to photograph as long as I treated them as such. Most of the time they're very interested in my equipment. At the National Cathedral one officer even advised me to be careful about how I used the photo I was taking of 'Ex Nihilo', since the Cathedral had successfully sued the makers of the film Devil's Advocate for their (mis)use of it without permission.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2011
  9. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Metro DC are
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What do you expect.

    Continue to pay rank & file the pittance they get now and you get what you pay for.
     
  10. BrianL

    BrianL Member

    Messages:
    547
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Toronto ON C
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Moose, in most jurisdictions the public figure exception exists. As with all laws, the detail is in the law and would need to be researched. A public employee is within the realm of public figure when performing his duty or else no footage of the Rodney King video would have been allowed or others. There is an underlying movement to except police and the like from this exception since 9/11 but hopefully it will go nowhere as in any society there needs to be a balance between the law and the publics' rights.

    I was not condoning their actions only saying that in many cities they'd have rough housed the guy. The officers, or at least the first one needs to get some education as to what the law and regulations are. On the plus side for him was his restraint especially as the photogrpaher was egging him.
     
  11. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Metro DC are
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Where are you seeing any egging going on? Is it in pt 2?

    This is subjective at best but I' didn't see any but closed the vid a little into the second part?
     
  12. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

    Messages:
    697
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland, US
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I was pointing out that in Maryland, exactly the opposite is the case. Citizens could not, under the law, make a video+audio recording of the police, until last year when a judge ruled that the law did not apply to the police. The underlying movement here is toward more freedom, not less.

    I must have missed that, too; where was the "egging"? And showing restraint should have started with not trying to enforce a nonexistent law.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2011
  13. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Now these guys are Nazis
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    When he refused to answer a simple, direct, yes or no question, namely: "Are you refusing to show me your ID, sir?" among others. His demeanor was completely confrontational from beginning to end.

    The cop even said in the beginning: "We have no problem with people taking pix of trains because they're fascinated with them." I'll wager that if I had been the one taking pictures they would have let me continue, because they would have sensed my cooperative attitude. Adherence or not to the letter of the law is not the issue here.

    This guy reminded me of my 15 year old daughter in one of her more petulant moods arguing with my wife. I have to place him squarely in the 'asshole' column.
     
  16. JS MD

    JS MD Member

    Messages:
    52
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    about our Rights

    June 01, 2011|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

    Two photographers who were detained by Maryland Transit Administration police this year and told they were forbidden to take pictures of MTA facilities expressed relief Wednesday after the head of the agency flatly repudiated the officers' actions.

    Administrator Ralign T. Wells disavowed police efforts to restrict photography on or around MTA property and said he would take action to head off a threatened lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland before it can be filed.

    Wells said MTA officers were not properly representing agency policy when they ordered two amateur photographers to stop taking pictures and video of light rail trains earlier this year. Wells said he would apologize to the photographers and make sure that officers respect the First Amendment rights of photographers.
    "We don't have a policy restricting photography," Wells said in an interview Wednesday. "The actions of some of these officers are not reflective of the agency stance."

    The two amateur photographers involved in the incidents that prompted the ACLU threat welcomed Wells' statement.

    "This is actually a good first step. What the MTA needs to do is follow up on what they indicated," said Olev Taremae of Bethlehem, Pa. Taremae was confronted by MTA police in a February incident at Mount Royal Station in Baltimore, during which he was detained and told that it is illegal under Maryland law and MTA policy to photograph transportation equipment, he said.

    Taremae said he still wants the MTA to expunge any record of that incident from its computer files.

    Chris Fussell of Portland, Ore., who was detained in a similar incident in March at the Cultural Center light rail station, said he was happy that the MTA responded quickly and admitted error after it received a letter Tuesday from the ACLU outlining its intention to sue if the issue was not resolved.

    "Because this is not a new issue, I will reserve final judgment until seeing what steps the MTA will take to ensure that its employees respect photographers' rights," Fussell said.

    Wells offered an explanation, but not an excuse, for why transit police ordered Taremae and Fussell to stop taking pictures and video.
     
  17. Focus No. 9

    Focus No. 9 Member

    Messages:
    242
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    sad but true
     
  18. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

    Messages:
    878
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    That damned ACLU, standing up for the rights of individuals, standing up for our constitution. What a bunch of commies.
     
  19. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,326
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Location:
    Rome, Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It's not my country and I don't know if I feel authorized to comment. I hope nobody takes offence.

    What strikes me is that two persons were detained not according to the policemen's interpretation of a law, but according to policemen's interpretation of the policy of an agency. That means, in simple terms, that in the US one can be detained not in force of the Law (which as you know is passed by a Parliament, where people sovereignty resides and lives), but in force of some norms emitted by some state public officer.

    It's a basic principle in all liberal states (and communist states probably as well) that detention can be applied only according to the Law, in circumstances foreseen by the Law.

    What happens reminds Sherwood's Sheriff, supposing he could do that! The point here is not that some policemen made a mistake in their sincere effort to correctly apply a law. That might happen. The problem here is much broader: people can be detained in force of a bureaucrat's act, if I get it right.

    If that's true, and if I were an US citizen, I would begin being VERY worried about the degree of fascism this terrorist-driven hysteria sunk my country in, Absit iniuria verbis.

    Fabrizio

    * Actually this is a bit too derogative of fascism. I don't think that during fascism anybody could be detained if not in force of the Law. Laws were obviously "fascist" ones, but at least laws they were. Detaining somebody in force of a bureaucrat's decision really stinks like middle ages.
     
  20. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,099
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    Location:
    Castle Rock,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  21. bwrules

    bwrules Member

    Messages:
    198
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2008
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    At least they haven't had cameras or film confiscated...
     
  22. spacer

    spacer Subscriber

    Messages:
    238
    Joined:
    May 30, 2011
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, only parts they like, anyway...
     
  23. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

    Messages:
    878
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Fabrizio, You don't understand the issue.

    The article states: "Wells said he would apologize to the photographers and make sure that officers respect the First Amendment rights of photographers.
    "We don't have a policy restricting photography," Wells said in an interview Wednesday. "The actions of some of these officers are not reflective of the agency stance." The statements of Wells actually back up your understanding that "in all liberal states...that detention can be applied only according to the law." Wells agrees with that. The officers acted on their own, not according to any policy.

    In the US, the supreme law of the land is the US Constitution. No agency can legally have a policy that violates it.
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,978
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Threads merged.
     
  25. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,076
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Nah. Nazis were way more competent. The lunacy currently afoot in the US really doesn't have any basis in law or fact. Hopefully the days of terrorist hysteria generated random-harassment-citing-made-up on-the-spot-laws will be remembered with the same amount of incredulity and disdain that the McCarthy era is. I do think many of the general public is finally figuring out that legions terrorists aren't coming to blow up their Ford Focus in particular, but there are still plenty of hysteria swilling idiots who wouldn't recognize a power grab if someone grabbed them in the tenders with a hydraulic vise-grip. They feel free just as long as they can go down to the mall, throw down a credit card, and buy frikkin sneakers with lights in them.

    On the part of the cops, and rent-a-cops, it's obviously just one more power trip, generally rooted in behavior formed around high school. Policing in the US has gone from a respected profession to being filled with people most would generally like to avoid, both professionally and socially.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2011
  26. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

    Messages:
    697
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland, US
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Please. The cop said the guy needed "the governing party's approval, and that would be us" (bulls**t). He even said there was a "vetting process" that had to be applied (bulls**t). He also said that no one could take pictures on state property, especially MTA property, without authorization (bulls**t). He also stated that the guy HAD to give them his ID (bulls**t).

    Adherence to laws that actually exist is the issue here. The cop was a complete d**k, and might end up losing his job because of his incompetence.