Posts Tagged 'lapd'

LAPD Unlawfully Detains Photographer

The above video was recorded on February 21, 2010 in Hollywood, CA. As you will see from the footage, the officer’s behavior is deeply disturbing and should cause alarm within the Los Angeles Police Department.

And despite what the officer claims in the video, it is completely legal to photograph and videotape anybody, including police officers, when an expectation of privacy does not exist. It is the public’s right to photograph and record police activity that occurs on our streets and in our neighborhoods, and we should not be subjected to verbal assaults, illegal detainment, or threatened with an unlawful arrest if we choose to do so.

This encounter could have been a non-issue.

To voice your concerns regarding this officer’s behavior, contact the following individuals and offices:

Internal Affairs – Los Angeles Police Department
304 South Broadway, Suite 215
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Office: 213-485-1486
Fax: 213-473-6420

Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles

Eric Garcetti, City Council President
5500 Hollywood Blvd., 4th Floor
Hollywood, CA 90028
Phone: 323-957-4500

Tom LaBonge, Councilmember, District 4
Hollywood Field Office
6501 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: (323) 957-6415

Update: Charges Against LA Photographer Dropped

Criminal charges have been dropped against photographer Jonas Lara who was arrested while documenting two taggers in South Central LA in February. Through his legal defense fund, Lara was able to retain the legal services of Joel Koury of the Kavinoky Law Firm, who worked for far less than he normally does because he believed in the injustice of the case.

PDN Pulse reports that Koury knew his stuff and went in aggressively, refusing to take lesser charges that were still unfavorable to Lara.

“We’re not talking about some gang member, we’re talking about an actual photojournalist,” Koury says he told the prosecutor. “Just because a photojournalist takes a picture of someone committing a crime does not turn the photographer into a criminal,” he adds.

Koury’s tactic paid off, and now Lara is a free man, though he does have to pay a $200 fee to the property owner as restitution and he gets a disturbing the peace charge. The judge also ordered that Lara’s equipment be returned.

Put this as a win for photographers’ rights.

Read PDN Pulse’s story here and our own interview with Jonas Lara here.

Facing Jail: Q&A With Photographer Jonas Lara

Photo courtesy Jonas Lara

Photographer Jonas Lara is looking at a year in prison if things don’t go his way, and with only a public defender who doesn’t want to consider First Amendment issues, things are not looking good.

The facts: In February Jonas was arrested in Los Angeles while photographing two graffiti artists as part of a long-term project. He was charged with felony vandalism, which was later reduced to aiding and abetting vandals, and his court date is next Tuesday, May 11. His cameras, lenses and memory cards were  confiscated and they still haven’t been returned. He’s currently soliciting donations to his legal defense fund so that he can hire a private lawyer to argue his case.

You can show your support and donate on Jonas’ Facebook page. Here, we talk to Jonas about the situation.

Is this the first time you’ve had a problem with the authorities while photographing?
This is the first time I’ve ever been arrested but not the first time being hassled. Back in 2007 I was working on a freeway series and I was confronted by a police officer who asked why I was taking pictures of bridges and which terrorist organization I was a part of. I explained that I was working on an art project, and after showing my student ID and checking my name on his computer he said I was free to leave.

Did you try to explain you were just documenting the scene?
For the most part I kept my mouth shut, but I did mention that I was a student working on a documentary project.

How did they not believe you even after seeing your work and looking into your background?
The funny thing is that they did believe me and seemed very understanding; they were conducting their investigation on the site while I sat in the patrol car for about two hours. I figured they were going to let me go once they finished, but instead they said I was going to jail and never said what they were charging me with, nor did they ever read me my rights. It wasn’t until after spending six hours in the holding cell and being transferred to the jail cell that I was informed that I was being charged with vandalism. At that point it was felony vandalism. I asked how I could be charged with vandalism for simply taking pictures and they said to take it up with the judge.

What has been happening in your life since this happened?
Well, I haven’t had most of my gear so I’ve been borrowing from other photographer friends or using my point and shoot and vintage cameras to shoot projects.

Are you under a lot of stress?
I have been under a great deal of stress; I have been trying to continue to make work during this process. I’ve been doing some painting and mixed media work to keep me busy since I don’t have my usual photo equipment.

Is it just a whirlwind of lawyers and court appearances?
Yeah well, the only experience I have in the courtroom is watching “Law and Order” so it was unreal being there trying to defend myself with a public defender who didn’t even want to entertain the idea of bringing up 1st Amendment rights or photographers’ rights or anything along those lines.

How likely is that you will be convicted — have you been able to get a feel for what’s going to happen to you?
The thing is, up until this point, I don’t think the court has any sense of who I am (my background, education, credentials). My public defender was only concerned with getting me a plea with a lower sentence, so I’m not sure to be honest. After asking me whether I wanted to take a plea of one month in jail plus drivers license suspended and [me] refusing, he said if I go to trial and lose I could face up to a year in jail, which translates into 180 days. I’m supposed to move to New York in August to start graduate school in September at School of Visual Arts, so if I’m convicted I can forget about grad school.

Are you able to still do photography?
Well, like I stated before, I’ve been using my point and shoot cameras, Polaroid camera and borrowing cameras and lenses, but it’s definitely put a dent in my ability to produce photographic work.

Will this affect how you approach further assignments or projects?
Most definitely; I will be more cautious.

Looking back, what if anything would you have done differently?
Well, if I understood my rights better I would have stated that I had a right to be there and that I’m not obligated to prevent or report a crime because I’m a journalist. Being that it was my first time dealing with this type of thing I didn’t know how to properly navigate the situation.

LAPD Patrol Cars Getting Dash Cams

It’s only taken two decades, but the LAPD is ready to install dashboard cameras in all squad cars. Officers in the Southeast Division will start using them beginning this Sunday.

From the LA Times article:

The cameras, which will capture video and audio of such encounters, are viewed as a vital tool for fulfilling a court order to guard against such racial profiling, as well as for protecting cops against bogus claims of abuse made by people during stops.

And, to be fair, protect citizens against bogus claims from cops.

Article from LA Times

Photographers’ Rights Rally Weekend 2009



It’s been a year since we held our first National Photographers’ Rights Organization (NPRO) rally in Los Angeles, and a lot has happened since then. Over the past 12 months, hundreds of us have been harassed by security guards and law enforcement for practicing a perfectly legal activity while in public. Some of us have even witnessed or personally experienced an unlawful arrest by an out-of-control cop. But with the help of our cameras, the grassroots mobilization of the internet and our lobbying of companies and public officials, we have stood up to this abuse and forced change.

For instance, Amtrak finally released a policy on photography and the NYPD’s leaked policy document says to stop the harassment of photographers shooting in public. So in order to progress even further, promote even more awareness and stand up for our rights, NPRO is holding a Photographers’ Rights Rally Weekend this year that will kick off in the Los Angeles Harbor/Port of Long Beach on Saturday June 6th, and end on June 7th in Downtown Los Angeles.

Before attending this event, it is important that we all educate ourselves about the law and photography. To learn the essentials it’s best to start with Bert Krages’ ubiquitous “The Photographer’s Right.” Read it. Memorize it. Print it. The knowledge you obtain from this document will help protect yourself when confronted by law enforcement or security staff when taking pictures in public.

You can also check out the numerous links in section 9 of this blog’s sidebar, which provide you with even more information regarding the law and photography.

Most importantly though, no matter what we are told by law enforcement, California Wiretapping Law legally permits us to secretly record police, or anybody for that matter, when they are in public and there is no expectation of privacy. We do not need a cop’s acknowledgment or permission to record their threats.

It’s extremely important that we bring video cameras and/or audio recording devices to document the unlawful actions of  cops and security guards.

So put on your rally lens caps and clear your schedules for the first weekend in June.

NPRO Rally – Saturday, June 6th
Location: Los Angeles Harbor/Port of Long Beach
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Directions From Downtown Los Angeles: 110 S to Anaheim St Exit, Turn Left on Figueroa Place, Turn Left on W Anaheim St, W Anaheim St Turns Into E Anaheim St, End At N Henry Ford Ave, Park On Street
Directions From the 405 N/S: Exit 33B S Wilmington Ave, Travel West on S Wilmington Ave, Take First Left at E 223rd St, Right on S Alameda St, Continue on S Alameda St, Veer Left on to N Henry Ford Ave, End at Intersection of E Anaheim St and N Henry Ford Ave, Park on Street


NPRO Rally – Sunday, June 7th
Location: Pershing Square, Corner of S. Hill St. & W. 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
Time: 11:30 a.m.

Update: LAPD Addresses Photography in Roll Call

Photo by wirralwater

So it’s not the ideal outcome, but one gets the feeling changing the way police view photography will take a seismic shift in thinking – and most likely a huge lawsuit, sad to say it.

As we posted earlier this week, David Sommars and two fellow photographers were stopped by the LAPD on a public sidewalk near the Port of Los Angeles, harassed, bullied and threatened with arrest. Sommars lodged a formal complaint with the Office of the Inspector General, who agreed to look into the matter.

Yesterday Sommars got a call from an LAPD commander who said the officers were wrong and they addressed the issue during roll call (which I would guess went something like this: “It’s come to our attention that photography is legal on public streets, so let’s refrain from the detainment and threats”).

Sommars says: “Also the OIG will investigate, but most likely the officers will not get in real trouble – they save that for unlawful force stuff. They will use this for training purposes.”

How much do you want to bet nothing changes?

LAPD Lies, Bullies Photogs Off Public Sidewalk

20040401-IMG_0092-797245Officer Thomas Malloy, Badge #8641, Serial #22934/Photo by David Sommars

Photographer David Sommars and two friends went to the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday night to take photos of the amazing industrial landscape. As they walked on the sidewalk with their tripods, they noticed they were being followed by a black SUV. Being as the driver was shifty and suspicious, the photographers were more worried that they were being cased for their gear.

But, as it turned out, the driver was Officer Weiss from the LAPD, who had called the three men into the station. When a police cruiser showed up, Sommars asked the officer what law they were breaking, but Officer Malloy declined to offer any information. He just told them it was illegal to audio record him and if they didn’t stop taking photos of him they would be arrested.

His boss, Officer Chacoh, also on the scene, was unfortunately just as ill-informed and tight-lipped. He said they had to go to a different city to take pictures. He was not willing, or capable, of citing a  law they were breaking; he was only able to repeat that if that they continued to take photos they would be taken in.

As Sommars points out, the photos they were taking from public sidewalks were essentially not any more detailed than what you’d find on Google Maps. The police can’t come up with a valid law because there isn’t one, and their harassment of photographers on public streets is illegal. “I’m actually getting very used to being “Lied” to by police officers,” Sommars writes on his blog. “This is not a good thing, and it’s not legal. But hey, they have guns and we don’t, so deal with it.”

UPDATE: Sommars called the number on the card he was given by the officers and was told he could be put in federal prison for 10-15 years for photographing refineries. Wow! If that’s really a law on the books and someone can point us to it, please do.

UPDATE #2: Sommars received a communication from a special investigator on May 26 that the Office of the Inspector General has launched an internal investigation into the officers involved in this incident.

Read Sommars’ full account, along with photos, here.

To voice your concerns regarding this incident, contact the following:

Los Angeles Police Station Harbor Area
2175 S John S. Gibson Blvd, San Pedro, CA
Phone (310) 726-7700
Fax (310) 726-7739

Office of the Inspector General Los Angeles Police Dept.
(213) 202-5866.
(213) 482-1247

Janice Hahn – District 15 City Council Member
City Hall Office (213)-473-7015
200 N. Spring Street, Rm 435
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Threatened With Arrest

Last week I wrote about a confrontation between myself and the LAPD while legally photographing a crime scene where a man had been killed. During the encounter LAPD officers berated, bullied and threatened me with unlawful arrest for supposedly obstructing their investigation. At no point did  I encroach on the crime scene, or cross police tape to photograph the incident. I was well within my legal rights granted to me by the US Constitution and LAPD’s Media Relations Handbook.

Sir…No Pictures

c099_011_10-2Photo by discarted

Recently I came across a crime scene in Hollywood where a homeless man had been killed in an alley behind a strip mall. According to a fireman who was there to assist with the trauma scene clean-up, the man had been asleep when a sanitation truck accidentally ran over him, crushing his skull.

Without crossing the police tape I was able to photograph the entire crime scene from the public sidewalk, Barnsdall Park (which is a public park) and parts of the strip mall parking lot that had not been taped off. However, on two occasions I was confronted by LAPD for photographing the crime scene.

Continue reading ‘Sir…No Pictures’

Protesting for Palestine


0318a004 Photos by Discarted

Discarted attended the pro-Palestinian protest at the Federal Building in Westwood in Los Angeles this past Saturday. Hundreds came out to show their support for Palestine as the conflict in Gaza rages on, and as expected, passions were on display, tensions were high and the LAPD was in full, excessive riot mode.


LAPD arrests a protester for unknown reasons (below). Seconds before someone climbed a flagpole to hang the Palestinian flag next to the US one, leading to chaos between police and Palestinian activists.


As the crowd grew larger (below), people confronted the LAPD, yelling “Let him go…Let him go!”, forcing the police, clad in riot gear, to back away and point their rubber bullet guns at peoples’ chests just three feet from them.



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