Take a picture, go to jail. Redux.

In the past we’ve linked to news items of people being harassed by authorities because they were taking pictures of public places. Something which is still perfectly legal despite the efforts of the Bush Administration. Now Etan of Too Much Sexy has become the latest person to be stopped and questioned for taking pictures in public.

Today I went out to shoot a roll of film for my first project. I was stopped by police before snapping my first photograph.

Standing in a snow bank in Essex County College, preparing to take a photograph of a flight of stairs, a policeman stopped me and told me to follow him. He asked me why I was photographing their campus. I informed him that it was for class. He then told me I’d have to speak with his Seargant.

I politely explained that Essex County College is a public campus and I am legally allowed to photograph public property. He told me that ever since September 11th, “things have changed.”

The seargant asked for my ID, school and state, and didn’t believe me when I told him that Rutgers has a photography class. After giving him my ID he disappeared for 10 minutes, probably to check if I was in a terrorist database. He returned and said I can photograph their building.

He let me go, but before doing so he recommended that I not take photographs publicly in Newark. I told him it was my legal right to do so. He said I would be stopped again and I calmly said, “I know.”

That was one of two such encounters that day.

8 thoughts on “Take a picture, go to jail. Redux.

  1. This is what I like to see- taxpayer’s dollars well spent, and a good lesson learned by a potential unwitting accomplice of terrorists.  I bet Bin Laden is shaking in his hush puppies.

  2. He let me go, but before doing so he recommended that I not take photographs publicly in Newark. I told him it was my legal right to do so. He said I would be stopped again and I calmly said, “I know.

  3. The more I hear stories like this, the more disgusted I am with the political situation in your country.  I can’t believe that Americans have to put up with this bullshit.  I can see a civil war breaking out if this continues.

    On a lighter note you should all go download Xzibit’s latest album “weapons of Mass Destruction” and listen to the track of the same name.  It’s an audio edit of a bunch of Bush’s speeches and it’s really funny.  Funny but true.

  4. May I suggest “Cyborg” by Professor Steve Mann (Univ of Toronto)?  It’s an excellent, eye-opening book (on a variety of subjects, not just surveillance).  Mann is also a sort of performance artist, going around taking pictures in public or even pretending to and seeing the reactions he gets.  He hopes to stir the public up:  why do we submit so meekly to increasing surveillance everywhere we go?  And if we “shoot back” (“sousveillance”), why do we get in trouble?

    I try to take pictures of surveillance cameras in public; I haven’t been hassled yet, not even in Palm Springs where “Public Safety Cameras” have popped up all over the place.

    —Joe

  5. So when are we all planning our 1st annual public protest photoshoot? I recommend that dozens if not hundreds of people descend on a major metropolitan city and split up, photographing any and all buildings or locations that might get the local constabulary’s panties in a bunch. Then do it again the next day. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum. Oh, and maybe we can all wear trenchcoats! Just thinking out loud…

  6. I am wondering where was this mans’ ‘minder’ was—he is obviously subversive what with his camera and liberal commy talk of ‘rights’. He is very much in need of ‘re-education’ because he does not seem to understand the new math which is:
    Before Sept 11 2001 = Rights
    After Sept 11 2001 = redneck police officer decides what your rights are—boy!
    I think I’ll go and paint of big mural on the side of my house of ‘GW our Fearless Leader” just to show how much I love and respect his giant penis.

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