LA’s Gas Tower Full of Hot Air

UPDATE: YouTube removed the video due to an apparent “privacy” complaint.

We had to go to downtown for an errand this week and, since we’d been hearing some reports of continued harassment at US Bank Tower, we thought why not do a little photographers’ rights reconnaissance while we’re there? We’re happy to report that the US Bank Tower is as friendly and respectful as ever, with a security guard coming out after a few minutes to hand us a courtesy card – and then turning right back around to go inside.
One block down at the The Gas Company Tower, however, they are apparently not on the same page (and it’s owned by Maguire Properties and patrolled by Universal Protection Service, same as US Bank). After a minute or so of harmless shooting of an escalator, a security manager who identified himself as Ivan came out and told us we couldn’t take photos of a private building. We told him that’s not true and we were on a public sidewalk. He said it was a private sidewalk (and we were very aware of the easement plaque). The usual back and forth ensued.

We ended up talking to Ivan for a bit, and he changed his tune once he realized he didn’t really have any facts to go on. He ultimately made some comments about respecting photographers’ rights and kept mentioning a courtesy card inside they normally hand out, but he really didn’t seem very prepared to tackle this issue for his superiors. It was interesting that a security manager of a major skyscraper in LA would come out to reprimand photographers and not be armed with courtesy cards, his own business cards, or any knowledge of the law. But, I guess they pay these guys just to reiterate.

The takeaway is this: Knowing your rights and standing your ground is essential. Undoubtedly nine out of 10 photographers security approaches at the Gas Company Tower apologize and leave immediately. The security staff is then emboldened to enforce a nonexistent law and trample on constitutional rights, and there is absolutely no incentive for them to do otherwise.

Interestingly, someone has filed a privacy complaint with YouTube due to the above video. How does it infringe on anyone’s rights? No face is shown, no last name is given; we’re on a public sidewalk discussing a policy that relates to photography in public. What an incredibly lame move from a very small person – someone who is perhaps embarrassed how he comes off? Just speculation, of course.



3 Responses to “LA’s Gas Tower Full of Hot Air”

  1. 1 santa October 5, 2009 at 7:55 am

    I wish I were local and could join a group to go there on a semi irregular basis to train those guards. If enough folks went and confronted them eventually they might get the message.

  2. 2 Tom October 5, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Keep up the good work. As law abiding citizens, we must protect our rights. This is especially important when on public property.

  1. 1 YouTube – More Like CensorshipTube « Trackback on October 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm

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