Photo by discarted
NOTE: This guard did not have anything to do with the incident described below.
I was recently harassed by Andrews International security for photographing them in public at the Hollywood/Highland Metro station. Street photography is completely legal, and anybody, including minors and police, can be photographed in public at any time.
Here is the letter that I sent to Roger Andrews, executive vice president of Andrews International. I have not received any kind of response — or even an acknowledgement from them.
The email was also sent to Councilmen Tom LaBonge and Eric Garcetti (whose districts Hollywood falls in), and neither one of them did anything. Councilman LaBonge did personally call me and promised to call back the following week, which he didn’t.
I am writing you in regard to an incident that occurred on May 3, 2008 between myself and some of your officers. I am a documentary as well as a street photographer, and yesterday I was berated, touched(technically assault) and threatened with arrest and detainment by some your officers, particularly security guard Ferguson #4730, after legally photographing them in public. Obviously, your officers have not been educated about the law in regards to street photography and the rights of photographers; this is the second occurrence like this that has happened between your officers and myself.
After photographing your officers, they were completely belligerent, stating that they
were private security officers and I was required to answer their questions, which is not true. Ferguson #4730 also tried to take my photograph, which I agreed to, but he couldn’t find a camera so he followed me around and eventually stopped me, forcing me to look up at one of the security cameras. This entire series of events is laughable because it appeared in his mind that laws that allow the city to photograph me at any time in public do not apply to Ferguson #4730 and the rest of your officers. On top of that, after having my photo taken, Ferguson #4730 then asked me if I was in the military and I said, ”No, I don’t believe in the military.” He then exploded and said, “I fucking built this land you’re standing on! Get outta here!”
After that, I walked around for a few minutes thinking about what happened and decided to go back to get the officers’ badge numbers. Once Ferguson #4730 realized what I was doing, he immediately covered up his badge with his hand and started yelling, “Oh no, you ain’t getting that!” To which I stated, “You are legally required by law to give me your badge number.” That is when Ferguson #4730 along with the other officers threatened me with arrest and tried to detain me. However, I am quite aware of the law, because I am on the street practically everyday taking photographs and told them they couldn’t detain me. Ferguson #4730 would not relent and used his entire body to block me from leaving; that is when he touched me, which is assault. One of the other officers stepped in and told him to stop and took him aside to speak with him. I did not leave, told them to call the police, and waited for BID Patrol to arrive. I was questioned but not arrested because I did not do anything illegal.
While the BID Patrol security guards gave me a very nice lecture on humanity, they didn’t seem to care about the way Ferguson #4730 and the other officers reacted in an unlawful, belligerent, and inhumane manner towards me.
I am requesting that all video footage of the area in front of the Hollywood/Highland Metro stop in Los Angeles, CA, between 6PM and 7:30PM on May 3, 2008 be retained for viewing, as well as kept for evidence. I will be speaking to a lawyer this week as well exploring my other options via the city and Los Angeles Metro.
Ferguson’s unlawful behavior, along with the other officers, and more importantly, their lack of knowledge for the law is unacceptable.
BID Patrol also asked me if I was an attorney, to which I said, “No, but I don’t have to be an attorney to know the law. Since you’re not an attorney either that must mean you don’t know the law as well…which is the reason why this all happened in the first place.”
Voice Your Concerns and Write:
Roger Andrews: firstname.lastname@example.org
Antonio Villaraigosa: email@example.com
Tom LaBonge: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Garcetti: email@example.com
Rich Morallo, Metro Citizens Advisory Council: (213) 922-233
Captain Dan Finkelstein, MTA chief of transit police: (213) 922-2707/922-2700
Rick Jager/Marc Littman, MTA media relations: (213) 922-2707/922-2700