August 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm #2376FarktographerParticipant
This was on the front page of Fark today, but I figured it’d make for a good discussion here. The police department in Long Beach has, according to the article, “confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures ‘with no apparent esthetic value’ is within Long Beach Police Department policy.”
I’d assume landmarks and pretty flowers are esthetically valuable to the police department, while shots for themes like “Abandon All Hope” would probably get a raised eyebrow.August 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm #40555CauseISaidSoParticipant
While the policy itself raises my ire and the idea of being detained for photography pegs my rage-o-meter, after reading the article this particular situation is not quite as bad as it initially seemed. Turns out the cop just asked what he was doing, checked his ID, and then let him go on about his business, including taking more photos.
I know it could’ve turned out differently, but I’ll save my rage for the cases where they actually turn people away from photographing things or try to tell them it’s illegal. It’s likely just me, but I wouldn’t really care if asked to ID myself as long as that’s as far as it went and I was allowed to continue without hassle. Of course, now they’ve likely got a record of you, so if you’re paranoid about that kind of thing, it could be problematic, I suppose.August 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm #40556ennuipoetParticipant
I read the article and the thread on Fark about this. While this instance ended with the officer IDing and releasing, the underlying reason for stopping the photographer is the issue. The departmental guidelines are so broad and vague as to allow a photographer to be stopped, identified and questioned for basically any reason. Let’s take the threat to infrastructure issue out of the mix and try this hypothetical:
You are shooting for Summer Daze at the local park. Say you are out with your kids and they are running and frolicking off in the distance and you are snapping shots of this. An officer comes along and sees you there, and assume you are man for this. There are events, no sign of people watching or participating, no birthday parties, no signs that you have any reason to photograph these children. The office decides that there are no esthetic reasons for you to be photographing anything here, and hey maybe you are a child molester staking out your victims. He better ID you, just to be safe. So, he walks up to you, asks what you are doing and for your ID.
You haven’t broken a law. There is no probable cause for him to stop you, ask for you ID, or detain you in any fashion. Sure, you are a law abiding citizen, so you produce your ID, tell the officer those are your kids, the come up to meet the police officer and that is it. Not a problem.
Except you just lost your freedom without any underlying cause. When I was a cop, before 9/11, my peers used to moan about how restricted they were! We had to have reasonable suspicion or belief that someone was committing a crime before we stop them. We needed to have probable cause before arresting them. I imagine those peers are wetting themselves with joy these days because they can stop anyone the please merely by inventing a anti-terrorism excuse. The way this policy is constructed and the legal thinking behind it removes a fundamental check on the powers of the government to deprive you of freedom, even if only for a few moments. One of the fundamental tools of oppression is to create an environment where the state can place a check on your freedom of movement, thus the Cold War cliche of being asked for your “papers” on the streets of East Berlin. The dividing line between a Stasi agent checking your papers and a Long Beach PD officer checking your ID without legal cause is very, very blurry and growing dimmer every day.
Benjamin Franklin said those show trade their freedoms for security shall soon have neither. So long as governments continue to twist the threat of terrorism into a tool to keep check on the public for ANY reason, our freedoms are in jeopardy. Yes, in this case, the photographer was released, but the power granted to government to deprive people of liberty has increased. The next time the government might make him erase a photo, seize the camera or arrest the photographer. It happens all the time.
Guard your freedoms jealously, or you may wake to find them gone.August 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm #40557CauseISaidSoParticipant
Oh, I fully understand what you’re saying and where you’re coming from, ennui. I guess I’ve just seen so much of this crap, along with all the TSA “security theater”, with no signs that the govt will regain any sense of sanity anytime soon, that I’ve just grown weary of it. Aside from voting for reasonable people or running myself (not gonna happen), I’m not sure what to do about it.August 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm #40558orionidParticipant
*bites tongue in lieu of going off on a politics-tab style rant*
Well said, Ennuipoet.August 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm #40559FarktographerParticipant
I think my grudge comes less from paranoia and more from the fact that in San Diego, the cops seem to love harassing people for no reason. In my hometown, it was never an issue – hell, even in LA I never have a problem. SD cops have too much time on their hands and love to bother people, just looking for something to get their hands on. Something about them bothers me, and if they had the power to stop me every time I wanted to take a photo of something, I’d get pretty tired of pulling out my ID.August 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm #40560ennuipoetParticipant
I did want to say that my feelings are not coming a from a political stance. I think people of conscience on both sides of the political aisle can and should be concerned about the slow erosion of our freedoms. Nor is this some great conspiracy to install a police state in the U.S. This is good people doing what they think is right, 99% of cops are genuinely concerned about protecting the public. The laws are ill thought and reactionary. The problem is most people are law abiding and never think they will ever be touched by these laws. Until the day they are in the park and stopped. Perhaps their name is similar to someone on a watch list, perhaps they forgot to pay a parking ticket, perhaps a glitch in the system shows a warrant in their name. These things happen all the time. It is only then they get concerned. I’ve been approached one time by security out shooting, I was below the George Washington Bridge and a guy came and very politely asked me not to take photos with a zoom lens of the underside of the bridge. He did not demand, he requested, very professional. I was happy to comply with his request. If he DEMANDED or threatened, I would have reacted differently.August 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm #40561KestranaParticipant
Considering what we’re going through with the government right now, I’m not inclined to believe there’s anything benevolent about police actions these days. Democracy and freedom and transparency all come with risk. People need to decide what’s more important, our personal liberties or a placebo against terrorism.August 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm #40562caradocParticipant
When I was a cop, before 9/11, my peers used to moan about how restricted they were! We had to have reasonable suspicion or belief that someone was committing a crime before we stop them. We needed to have probable cause before arresting them. I imagine those peers are wetting themselves with joy these days because they can stop anyone the please merely by inventing a anti-terrorism excuse.
I’ll bet on a few of those former peers being TSA employees now.
I’ve often wondered how many current TSA employees are only ex-police because they were terminated with cause – the same as I wonder how many current TSA employees are ex-military because they’re out on a Big Chicken Dinner.August 24, 2011 at 2:35 am #40563YugoboyParticipant
Having just come through security screenings several times in the last couple weeks, I can only second what ennuipoet said. What gets me the most is the people (including EVERYONE I traveled with – wife and parents) who just go along with the program. We are so very fearful of our government. In my wife’s case, she’d rather avoid embarrassment than say ANYTHING. She made it through 2 security screenings on the way into Italy, and two on the way home with a can of sun screen. ONLY because of a stupid weather-related delay forcing us to spend a night in a hotel did she get her can confiscated. That’s also the first time for me to have a back-scatter scan. My innards are still tingling.
My xanax was the ONLY reason I didn’t lose my mind. I will be having a more thorough rant on this elsewhere later, but we have totally given up real liberty in favor of the appearance of security. America used to be a great nation. Now we’re a nation of cowards.August 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm #40564caradocParticipant
I will be having a more thorough rant on this elsewhere later, but we have totally given up real liberty in favor of the appearance of security. America used to be a great nation. Now we’re a nation of cowards.
That’s been true at least since Executive Order 9066, if not earlier.
Senator McCarthy certainly didn’t help any. Nor Rahm Emmanuel, among others.November 13, 2011 at 12:58 am #40565YoyoParticipant
It could be worse, like the Philippines.
(maybe not the best article, but it was easy to find)
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