Archive for the 'Los Angeles County Sheriffs' Category

National Photographer’s Rights Day is Today

NPRD PhotographersNational Photographers’ Rights Day – June 1, 2008

Today is National Photographer’s Rights Day, so we hope you’re out exercising your First Amendment rights to take pictures in public like we were doing this afternoon.

As you all know, it’s completely legal to take photos in public space.  Some people are catching on; some people aren’t. These things do take time, but  we do believe we have had far more successes than setbacks since the creation of the National Photographers’ Rights Organization in 2008.

In the past we’ve held a gathering on this day to bring photographers of all kinds together to take pictures, share stories, educate anybody who is willing to listen, and to demonstrate that there’s nothing wrong with taking photos in public.

However, we’ve been busy over the past year or so with general life stuff, not to mention an ACLU lawsuit against the LA County Sheriff’s Department.  So we have not been as active as we’d liked to have been. We’re still around though, and we do have some future photography events and trips in the works; there’s also plans to have a seminar and a photography walk with ACLU staff.  So stay tuned.

And in case you forgot, here are your rights.

LA County Sheriffs Unlawfully Detain Photographer (again), Illegally Search his Bag

Despite having a federal lawsuit against the The Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, photographer Shawn Nee, was detained yet again and had his bag searched without his consent, violating his 1st and 4th Amendment rights.

LA County Sheriff Tells Photographers Not to Photograph Them

While waiting for OccupyLA members to arrive at the Wilshire/Normandie Metro station in Los Angeles, CA, an LA County Sheriff told two photographers not to photograph them.

At that point, a video camera was turned on to document the encounter, as the photographer defended his constitutional rights to take pictures in public.

The irony of the video is the fact, that at the beginning of the footage, the Sheriffs tell the photographers that photography is not allowed on the Metro (which is quickly rebuked by the photographer).  However, five minutes into the video, the sheriff backtracks, and starts saying the opposite—so suddenly photography is allowed on the Metro?

And it is, in this case, for now, simply because the photographer knew his my rights and Metro policy and stood up to these Sheriffs.

This kind of behavior from police officers needs to stop.  We can no longer allow them to continue harassing photographers exercising their constitutional rights while using the Metro.

To voice your concerns regarding this officer’s behavior, contact the LA County Sheriffs via this complaint form.

ACLU Sues LA County Sheriff’s Department on Behalf of Photographers


ACLU of Southern California sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and several of its deputies Thursday alleging they harassed, detained and improperly searched photographers taking pictures legally in public places.

LA County Sheriff Harasses Photographer, Unlawfully Orders Him to Move From a Public Sidewalk

Photojournalist Unlawfully Detained by LA County Sheriffs

From YouTube:

This is what happens when you try to take photos from the street of L.A. County Jail. The six deputies let me go only after I was searched and run through their computer system. Was told by the deputies that the jail area is private property, and there were national security concerns. For the most part, they were professional and somewhat polite during the stop. Still it seemed highly unnecessary for 6 deputies to stop me for taking images from the sidewalk. The images of the jailhouse building are for use in an upcoming story for the L.A. Weekly.

There’s not much to see in this video showing Los Angeles County Sheriffs unlawfully detaining photojournalist Ted Soqui for taking pictures from a public sidewalk of the L.A. County Jail (a constitutionally protected activity) since the cops prevented him from recording the encounter—actions that should raise serious credibility issues on the part of the officers because if the cops were acting in a legal manner then they shouldn’t be concerned about being videotaped.  Like cops say, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.  So I’m curious to know why these officers moved Ted’s camera as far away as possible and prevented their conversation from being recorded.

Is it because Ted’s detainment was unlawful and the cops had no legal grounds for stopping him?  Is it because the officers didn’t want their questionable or illegal behavior documented?  Or is it because they didn’t want themselves on YouTube in another video that shows LA County Sheriffs unlawfully detaining another photographer for performing a constitutionally protected act?  We’ll never know.

But there are a few things to remember.

Continue reading ‘Photojournalist Unlawfully Detained by LA County Sheriffs’

LA County Sheriffs Harass Student Reporters

In November, three student reporters from the Art Institute of California went to the LA County Board of Supervisors to film a story on foster care fraud, and the moment they arrived at the building for a scheduled interview inside, security guards and the LA County Sheriffs pounced. The security guards asked for their IDs and told them it was illegal to film without a permit or press credentials. Then, after the reporters gave over their IDs and were walking away from the building, seven sheriffs approached and surrounded them, for no apparent reason.

Slow day at the county supervisor, I guess.

Two things though: One of the reporters, Cody Garcia, on the tape says not everyone can afford the huge expense of the permits required to film in LA. Wrong. Those permits are for commercial productions, not for news gathering, or any individual with a camera on public property for that matter. And Jesse Garcia says he understands why the police harass people because they are sussing out potential threats. Wrong again. We shouldn’t operate on the assumption that people with cameras pose a threat since all claims to that effect are unsubstantiated. (That is, unless the FBI gets involved.)

But you have to hand it to the guys, who didn’t take the harassment quietly — as you can hear the one reporter repeatedly protesting and calling out the armed officers’ intimidation tactics: “How can I provoke a confrontation when I’m walking away — from seven armed officers!”

Despite repeated attempts to get a comment from LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky about the matter, the reporters have yet to receive a response.

A Case for Photographers Rights in 11 Points

For an 11-point analysis of Shawn’s incident with LA Sheriffs in the Hollywood and Western Metro station back in November, check out the Magic Flute Fine Art Nudes blog. (Yes, of all places.)

Thanks to photographer/blogger Stephen Haynes for providing such a thorough and thoughtful look at the situation – where the gist is basically photography is legal and this deputy was out of line. (Warning: Photos on the site are NSFW.)

Rick “Dirty” Sanchez Ignores Facts, Spins Story

Picture 21

In a desperate attempt to spin a story to his liking, Rick “Dirty” Sanchez (a man known for hitting Jeffrey Smuzinick with his car during a drunk driving accident and fleeing the scene, as well as publicly attacking Fox News for their lies) decided to ignore some very important facts regarding my detainment during his broadcast yesterday. However, even though his three-minute smear campaign against me was an honest and accurate report in his delusional mind, it’s too bad that others saw right through Sanchez’s gutter journalism report and have started calling him on it.

If you would like to voice your disgust at Rick Sanchez and his producer, Janelle Griffin, for spinning this story and running such a lopsided and biased segment (which intentionally and egregiously did not air Sheriff Gylfie’s lies, false claims, and threats), you can contact Janelle at (404) 827-1500. I’m sure she’ll appreciate your call, and make sure to ask her the following questions:

  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie saying, “It’s against MTA rules,” when photography is allowed on the Metro? More important, why did you include the entire beginning, but removed only this section of the video?
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie threatening Shawn when he said, “You know what, I’ll just submit your name to ah…(chuckles)…T.L.O.”
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie threatening Shawn when he said, “You’ll be on the FBI’s hit list. Is that what you want? That’s the direction you’re heading.”
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie threatening Shawn when he said, “We’ll just put your name on the hit list, dude…that’s fine.”
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie’s inaccurate claims about bombs being planted in the London subway bombings, when the explosions were caused by suicide bombers?
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie’s inaccurate claims that photos were taken by the 7/7 terrorists prior to the attack being carried out when, in fact, photos were not taken? The four men involved in the attack did a trial run, which did not include taking photos.
  • Why did Rick claim in the segment that Shawn “is clearly out to provoke the officer, it seems, to try to make him look like a jerk” when that is absolutely not true? Do you have actual evidence to back up this claim?
  • Did Rick intentionally try to publicly smear Shawn by purposely leaving out very important facts involving his detainment?
  • Why did Janelle Griffin call Shawn on Wednesday morning to berate him, demand to know his attorneys’ names, and threatened to make him look bad on the show after he told her he was not going to participate?

Finally, if you’re going to call Janelle, make sure you do it during normal business hours, because as the producer of “Dirty” Sanchez’s show she apparently only checks her messages during that time.

Sheriff Threatens to Submit Photographer to FBI’s Hit List

It is completely legal to photograph the Los Angeles Metro System.

Be sure to Digg the video here, leave a comment on YouTube, and submit the story to boingboing.

On October 31, 2009 while on my way home from the Hollywood and Highland area, I was unlawfully detained for 25 minutes by LASD Officers Richard Gylfie #2955 and Bayes #456 for taking two photographs of the turnstiles located at the Hollywood and Western Metro Station — an act that is completely legal and occurred in public space.

As you can see in the video (which can be viewed on YouTube, Vimeo, Liveleak, Flickr and, Officer Gylfie #2955 and Officer Bayes #456 took it upon themselves to ignore established law and Metro policies in order to bully me, humiliate me, and detain me for conducting a perfectly legal activity in public. More important, by illegally detaining me, Officers Gylfie and Bayes violated my constitutional rights, which protect me as a photographer and against unlawful stops, searches, and seizures.

To voice your concerns regarding my unlawful detainment, contact the following individuals and offices:

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s online complaint form.

Michael J. Gennaco, Chief Attorney
The Office of Independent Review
4900 South Eastern Avenue, Suite 204
Commerce, CA 90040
Phone: (323) 890-5360

Karyn Mannis, Captain
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Internal Affairs Bureau
(323) 890-5300

Eric Garcetti, City Council President
5500 Hollywood Blvd., 4th Floor
Hollywood, CA 90028
Phone: 323-957-4500

NOTE: Garcetti’s office is directly across the street from where this unlawful detainment took place. Gil Garcetti, Eric’s father, is also a former Los Angeles District Attorney, as well as an acclaimed urban photographer, so Eric should be well aware of photographers’ rights and the issues that we deal with today.

Tom LaBonge, Councilmember, District 4
Hollywood Field Office
6501 Fountain Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: (323) 957-6415

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