A Snapshot of Our Freedoms

I bet that there are thousands1 of stories like The Artist's Statement, but that few are as well expressed or documented. Basically, this photography student is assigned to take a motion shot, so he tries to take an action shot as a train goes over a famous local bridge. It's legal, he's even checked with the park rangers, but the local cops and then the feds come and act in a rude, intimidating and I'd say unconstitutional manner.

One of the many many costs of the 9/11 tragedy is that the reaction to it has given some of the worst tendencies in law enforcement an undeserved patina of legitimacy — an attitude that flows down from the White Palace and especially the torture-may-be-legal Aschcroft Justice Dept.

What can we do about this attitude? Asserting your rights can be painful if it promotes police violence, and expensive if it results in arrest, however unjust. Photographers should certainly carry this one-page statement of photographer's rights. And over time there will be test cases, and ultimately either changes in management that trickle down to the cops on the ground.

Meanwhile, I half feel like I should start carrying a camera in solidarity. If it gets bad — and in New York it is already verging on real bad — you have to ask what gets banned in public next: pencils and sketch books? tape recorded notes? Staring?

1 A few of these other stories appear in comments to this blogs.photoblogs.org post.

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8 Responses to A Snapshot of Our Freedoms

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  2. pfc says:

    Did the Soviet Union have a long list of places where you couldn’t take photographs?

  3. Ellen1910 says:

    Would Magruder filming the Presidential motorcade in Dealy Plaza be subject to arrest? His film confiscated?

    Those filming in Lincoln Park and Grant Park and at Michigan and Balbo?

    The video of the Rodney King beating?

    The last thing we want is terrorists being able to study police security procedures and riot-control drills!

  4. Matt Weiner says:

    That’s Zapruder–Magruder was a Watergate crook. Otherwise, you’re absolutely goddamn right.

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  6. Jake Nelson says:

    On staring: staring at a person (I believe the threshhold is 4 seconds. Yes, seconds) has been a crime – it’s considered sexual harassment – here in MN since well before 9/11. No joke. As far as I know, it’s not a crime to stare at buildings. Yet.


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