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Paint It Black
Living the American dream one heartbreaking piece at a time
Remember! In today's America, photography is a crime.
Want to see proof the terrorists have won and we're rapidly heading down a path to fascism in a frantic bid to "be safe?" How about a sheriff's deputy threatening to arrest a 12 year old girl for "unlawful photography!"

I am deeply worried about how this sort of thing is happening more and more, not just abroad but in the US as well. What risks might I be taking with my freedom (and my $4,500 worth of gear) each time I "dare" to take a picture of the public / in public space / of something somebody deems "sensitive?" If this becomes the accepted "norm," it has deeply chilling implications for a few core values of the country such as free speech, don't you think?

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12 thoughts or Leave a thought
asetwoman From: asetwoman Date: August 6th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
To be honest, this sort of shit happens all the time and has for years and years. I really don't think this is anything new and I remember my circle of friends complaining about this sort of thing back in the early 90's.

I have a friend who lives just outside Atlanta and he was arrested elsewhere in Georgia for an outstanding ticket when his dog was picked up by Animal Control. He's already paid it so it was a paperwork mistake, and he didn't have to strip, but he was denied his phone call among other things. He was very scared and had no idea if he was ever going to get out. He also had no idea why he was being arrested.

Cops acting with impunity? Disturbing, yes, but nothing new. Also, I don't see this as an example of paranoia about safety. The cops just didn't want any photgraphic evidence of their actions, if you ask me.
yakko From: yakko Date: August 7th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
The cops just didn't want any photgraphic evidence of their actions, if you ask me.

And I'll agree. The common theme those in authority enforce at any cost is, "Don't Question Authority." Especially when people should be doing exactly that.
varro From: varro Date: August 7th, 2008 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)
The difference between years ago and now is that everyone has video cameras or cell phone cameras.

In the 60s and 70s, everyone believed the cops when they attacked protesters because the cops said people were rioting or throwing things.

Now, everyone videotapes protests, and if the cops arrest or attack people, the video is right there to prove the cops were lying.

That's how we got a $835,000 settlement from the City of Portland for police attacking a group of peaceful anti-Bush protesters in 2002.

We took the unedited video, showed it to cops at their deposition, then made a settlement package for a Federal judge acting as a mediator. The judge convinced the city that they would be hit with a much bigger verdict, and offered our clients a good settlement.
brianblackberry From: brianblackberry Date: August 6th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Time to carry around my digital camera as a matter of course, just so I can take pictures of anything interesting in public and see if they dare threaten arrest for it.
nekosensei From: nekosensei Date: August 6th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
doomsey was at a fair taking pictures about a year ago, and cop stopped him and started asking him questions. They didn't threaten to arrest him and they didn't ask him to delete it.
skorzy From: skorzy Date: August 6th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd not worry. This guy has legal precedence to sue the police department *again*. If these cops had any brains, they'd leave him alone.

This isn't a matter of civilian rights, its a matter of a police officer overstepping his legal authority. The law is pretty cut and dried in this matter.

Nothing more dangerous than a educated citizen.
varro From: varro Date: August 7th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC) (Link)
They tried this in Portland. The DA had a brain and dropped the charges.

Conover should sue the shit out of the city again, and file a complaint with the state to strip the cop of his peace officer license.
linnaeus From: linnaeus Date: August 7th, 2008 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Book 'em, Lou. One count of pissing off a cop.
wolfbrotherjoe From: wolfbrotherjoe Date: August 7th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd like to point out some things. First I want to say that it sounds like the police are overusing their authority, but before I get to the part where I agree with you -

Taking photos of cops. Cops are used to them and their families being threatened on a regular basis. People taking photos of cops is easily a threat, not because of terrorism, but because of simple fear of people wanting some sort of vengeance for a traffic ticket or a drug bust or some other thing the cop was in on. Photos make it easier for people to figure out who they're going to get revenge on, or for gangs to spot out-of-uniform cops.

This isn't some pie-in-the-sky thing, this is a real problem that police officers have to deal with on a daily basis. Taking a photo of a police officer in situations like this is tantamount to threatening the officer with later physical violence.

That being said, it sounds like those police are abusing their authority. I hesitate to make a decision since we're getting only one point of view, but I can believe it - several years back, Florida became subject to a lawsuit that ultimately made it illegal for the police to 'discriminate' by requiring police officers to pass background checks and basic middle-school and high-school level knowledge tests about mathematics and social studies. That is, the courts decided that it was racial discrimination for police to require these checks and tests, since more non-whites than whites failed these 'strict' tests. The police departments had to eliminate the background checks and knowledge tests for their officers. So I wouldn't be surprised to see this sort of thing happening, sadly.

Edited at 2008-08-07 04:23 am (UTC)
moryssa From: moryssa Date: August 7th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with Joe's first point, but that probably comes from living my life as a member of a law enforcement family. I don't *want* people to take photos of my dad when he's got someone pulled over, for exactly the reasons Joe stated.

Is taking a photo of a policeman a crime? No. The law states that as long as you are not impeding an investigation and you are on public property, then you can legally take photographs of pretty much anything. The only exception being things deemed of National Security.

Is driving by a policeman who has stopped another motorist, slowing down to take a photograph and taunt the policeman with it while he's doing his job a crime? Well... probably not, but I don't think it's as clear-cut of a "No."

I'm not saying that the police officer was in the right-- he was definitely overstepping bounds and acted in an inappropriate manner, and the case should be thrown out. But at the same time, Conover sounds like an ass. He's repeatedly been in trouble with the law, both in Tennessee and in Florida, where he moved from.

Interrupting an officer while he is doing his job IS a crime-- I believe it would be considered obstruction of justice, although I'm not positive. Driving by slowly enough to take a picture and yell something out the window constitutes an interruption, as far as I'm concerned. Policemen already have to be worried about being shot by the person they pull over, and having a second car full of passengers hanging around lurking is just a Bad Idea. Because of his prior history with this police dept, I'd be willing to bet that Conover wasn't doing any sort of "peaceful protest". I bet there were a lot of 4-letter words and accusations and probably some threats of lawsuits (if nothing else).

Like I said, I do agree that the officer was wrong. But I don't think that Conover was as "innocent" as he'd like to have everyone believe.
urocyon From: urocyon Date: August 9th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
My daddy's a cop so I think it should be illegal to record his activity when acting in the "public interest" or say anything which might hurt his delicate feelings.

I'm going to put this as delicately as I can: fuck you and get the hell out of my country.
urocyon From: urocyon Date: August 9th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
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