UPDATE: MTA Chief Ralign T. Wells has come out against agency employees who have sought to prohibit photography, telling the Baltimore Sun, “We don’t have a policy restricting photography. The actions of some of these officers are not reflective of the agency stance.” He said he will work to settle with the ACLU before any lawsuit can be filed.
The Maryland ACLU may sue on behalf of Christopher Fussell, a train enthusiast, who was taking photos of a Baltimore train station and told to stop this past March. Fussell takes photos of trains and railroad stations all over the US — he takes about 15,000 to 20,000 a year — but it was the Charm City that gave him trouble. He was taking photos of Baltimore’s Cultural Center station when an employee ordered him to stop and threatened to call police.
The [ACLU] warned that unless the agency meets a series of conditions by Sept. 1, it will take the MTA to court — where it expects to win.
Civil libertarians and rights advocates say police have been given no new powers to curb photography since 9/11. In many cases, they say, police are making up laws and rules on the spot and issuing orders they have no right to give.
Interestingly, the ACLU worked to settle a 2006 incident amicably, where one of their own staffers was told to stop taking photos by the MTA, but they say they’re not going that route this time. Staff Attorney David Rocah says they’ve been trying that for five years and it hasn’t brought about change.
Often it takes a big lawsuit to get people’s attention.