Photo by Jerome Vorus
June 1st marks the day NPRO stands up for photographers’ rights, and for the past two years we’ve held a rally in Los Angeles where we’ve gathered to assert our right to shoot in public. So stand up and be counted…or stand up and shoot in your own city, and if you’re stopped and harassed just remember your rights.
And now, in honor of the day, another incident in the annals of clashes between photographers and authorities….
In March, 18-year-old and photographer Jerome Vorus was taking photos at Reagan National Airport in Virginia because that’s what he likes to do. Knowing the airport was a sensitive location, he spoke to a media relations representative beforehand and asked about any restrictions. He was told there were none. He and the representative went over which areas were leased by private companies (like the check-in counters) and she said she would notify airport police and TSA officials.
Still, the message didn’t seem to get through. As Vorus shot photos, TSA employees approached him twice and asked what he was doing. The third time, he was approached by TSA in suits who asked whether he’d spoken with media relations. Even though Vorus told them he had, they said he could not take photos of TSA employees or checkpoints. To clarify, so that he could understand the situation he was in more fully, Vorus asked the men if he could see their credentials. One man replied, “We ain’t gotta show you shit.” Vorus pressed because he knew they are required by law, and so they did. It turns out they were Department of Homeland Security officers, and when Vorus asked if he was being detained he was told no. Things got heated and there was some back and forth over being detained versus being free to go.
Ultimately Vorus was told he was being detained and he would be arrested for disorderly conduct. His camera was taken and photos were deleted. And then, when all was said and done, he was free to go. Afterward Vorus filed a complaint with the airport authority’s internal affairs and received a letter a few weeks ago that acknowledged the officer did violate policy. TSA has not gotten back to him about the complaint filed with them.
The thing is, friction naturally occurs when law enforcement officers very badly want some trouble and an innocent person knows his rights are being violated. That is a predictable clash, and it happens all the time — but it doesn’t have to.
Article from Vorus Blog