Wackenhut/G4S Guard and Photographer Face Off

When it comes to watching security guards harassing photographers, Tom McElvy’s video of his encounter with a Wackenhut/G4S security guard at the Bank of America Center in Norfolk, VA, is one of the more cordial exchanges that’s been uploaded to the web this year. Maybe I’m partial to blonde haired girls with blue eyes and a nice Virginia accent, but most photographers would likely prefer an encounter with this Wackenhut/G4S guard than with the US Bank Tower’s Patrick Silver or the Port of Long Beach guard who didn’t care about the law.

No, there’s not much excitement occurring in McElvy’s video (both people handle themselves well), but based on the text and what is said in the video, there is evidence pointing to a history of harassment and an illegal policy that is creating a hostile environment for photographers who shoot around this Bank of America location. More important, the people in charge of this place, such as Chris Taylor and this girl’s “superior,” who is informing this girl to tell people they can’t photograph the property, may not know what the First Amendment entails.

But maybe they do and simply don’t care about constitutional rights and will continue harassing photographers as long as they can get away with it.

So maybe a flash mob at the Bank of America Center is needed to help educate whoever is running this operation?

Bank of America Center
1 Commercial Place
Norfolk, VA 23510

14 Responses to “Wackenhut/G4S Guard and Photographer Face Off”

  1. 1 Tom McElvy September 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm


    Thanks for the entry! Just an update.
    This morning, I had a very cordial conversation with John M., the Bank of America security manager. He called from an anonymous number, and while we were exchanging some anticdotal material, we got disconnected. I then returned the call (he was shocked that I had his number, since he called blocking his number. I explained that he could NOT hide his number from me, it was available to me at anytime!) Anyway, he sounded appalled that Wackenhut/G4s did this. he checked the BoA policy manuals, and it is very clear that no one, without permission, may take photos ON BoA property. his belief is that the rent-a-cops at Wackenhut/G4s are misreading the word “ON” into the word “OF.” Again, that was just his opinion. He assured me that they understand that people can take care of the building, and will clarify this to Wackenhut/G4s.

    During our conversation, he asked me why I was taking photos of the buildings. I explained to him that I don’t have to have ANY reason; it is a constitutionally protected activity, and is in no way illegal. he kept asking until I guess he got tired of asking.

    I am sure I am now on some sort of Bank of America ‘watch list” and expect the FBI any time. But, the whole incident was interesting, and enlightening. I hated being a hard-ass with that pretty little guard, but if we don’t stand up for our rights, we will soon not have any!

    Fight the good fight!

  2. 2 discarted September 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Well, that’s good news. Hopefully, you’ll eventually see actual results.

    And no I don’t think you were being a hard ass to that girl. Both of you handled yourselves appropriately.

    Just curious, who is the woman in the background just staring at you and the guard? I love her expressions throughout the video. The Youtube image framed it perfectly—that could be a movie poster or a great black and white photograph.

    By the way, good job fighting the good fight.

    • 3 Tom McElvy September 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      Yes, that was good news, but I will believe it when I see it! The results, that is. I have dealt with Wack-Your-Nuts security before and they are not exactly a brain trust!

      I thought I was being a bit of a hard ass, especially when I cut hr off when she said I was told…. But hey, I am a sucker for a pretty blue-eyed blonde with a sexy Virginia accent too! 🙂

      The woman in the background was a bystander. No idea who she was. To give you a bit more background, I was across the street at a public fountain area; I walked right past the guard who was apparently on break. I was shooting when she said I couldn’t take pics of the building. I put the DSLR down, grabbed my trusty Z8i out of my back pocket and started filming. She looked like I really caught her off guard (no pun intended) and probably wet herself when Is aid that I would NOT stop shooting and I would have her or anyone else arrested if they interfered with me. But I did feel bad about the situation.

      Thanks again!

  3. 4 discarted September 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Hey, we achieved results at the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles so it may happen.

    But don’t fret, you were firm but nice to the girl. I can tell you towered over her though. This girl seemed very different than most SGs. She actually paid attention and listened to you, which is not common among SGs. And she didn’t tried to make up any BS to support her claim, but rather stated the truth. I hope she is not disciplined in any way because she handle the situation (no, not the italian guy) well. Seems like she should be a supervisor and not one of the grunts walking the pavement. I would certainly give this girl the chance to move up in the company.

    What annoys me the most though, is SGs are being told this nonsense by their supervisors all the time and they’re just taking their word as fact.

  4. 5 wackennut January 18, 2011 at 2:18 am

    You were mentioned by McElvy on Carlos’ blog today with a link back to your story. However, it looks like Carlos didn’t like your name being mentioned on his blog and deleted McElvy’s comments. I thought he was all about not deleting comments (and that’s according to him), but I guess not. What a goon. Wish I did a screen grab before it was too late.

    It’s a good thing you guys posted on this when it actually happened and not 4 months later like Carlos.


  5. 6 discarted January 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I’m not surprised. Wish I could’ve seen it, but I certainly don’t doubt you. I guess Tom can let us know if he left the comment or not.

    • 7 Tom McElvy January 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm

      Yes, the comment was still there as of a few minutes ago… I can’t imagine him removing it; he does not strike me as that kind of guy. He has always been cool with me! 🙂

  6. 8 discarted January 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I just looked and saw you remark, but Wackennut said you left a link in the comment. Which, I didn’t see. Did you leave an earlier comment with a link to our post? I don’t see the link in the comment that’s there. Is Wackennut acting like a nut?

    Anyhow, it really doesn’t matter if something was deleted or not because even though I still face the same issues on a daily basis photographers’ rights is really not my focus any more.

    No big deal, time to move on.

  7. 10 discarted January 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Well that solves it. Wackennut doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Maybe Carlos’ comments went down at some point and it looked like they were deleted.

    Who knows, but like I said it doesn’t matter.

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