Clayton Patterson is a fixture on the Lower East Side of New York, having documented the neighborhood for 25 years. He’s an artist, activist, photographer for The Villager newspaper, has published books, had a documentary made about him, and been featured in the New York Times.
But being the true iconoclast that he is, his relations with the Seventh Precinct haven’t always been rosy.
On March 13 he was trying to photograph a stabbing victim on Orchard Street when police bizarrely and belligerently harassed and tried to intimidate him. In their effort to block Patterson from shooting the scene, at various points: an officer smashed into him and accused him of starting it; the sergeant screamed at him — “I’m f—ing tired of you!”; two other officers jumped around wildly in front of his camera yelling “I’m a monkey”; and then an officer positioned his squad car on the sidewalk, directly in front of Patterson, to block him.
Now, there is a history here. Patterson has been arrested 14 times over the years, all when he was shooting photos. He is currently suing the NYPD over a 2008 incident where he was arrested for photographing a fire and not stopping when he was told to. So, the precinct officers know who he is (check out his photo — he’s hard to miss), and they want payback. I get it.
But it doesn’t make it right.
For officers to behave like this — in a ridiculously immature manner to impede a photographer who has every legal right to be there? I don’t care whether you like him or not; he could be the biggest thorn in your side, but that’s called life. As long as he’s following the rules, deal with it.
Show your support for photographers’ rights by calling the NYPD’s Seventh Precinct Captain Nancy Barry at (212) 477-7731.
Article from The Villager