Posts Tagged 'cops'

LAPD Sergeant Fires Away on YouTube

While YouTube is great fun for silly cat videos and clips of kids freaking out after the dentist, it’s also fertile ground for angry, arrogant, illiterate people. Exhibit A:

“your a dick ? what would u wanna video/pictures? a dead guy.. what the fuck are you gona do with the video of a dead guy.. get a life you fuking cunt,”

Interestingly, the comment was left by AbawiTariq, a sergeant with the LAPD, according to his YouTube profile.

Nothing but the best in Los Angeles. Seriously, Chief Beck – that is who you want representing your force?

LAPD Unlawfully Detains Photographer

The above video was recorded on February 21, 2010 in Hollywood, CA. As you will see from the footage, the officer’s behavior is deeply disturbing and should cause alarm within the Los Angeles Police Department.

And despite what the officer claims in the video, it is completely legal to photograph and videotape anybody, including police officers, when an expectation of privacy does not exist. It is the public’s right to photograph and record police activity that occurs on our streets and in our neighborhoods, and we should not be subjected to verbal assaults, illegal detainment, or threatened with an unlawful arrest if we choose to do so.

This encounter could have been a non-issue.

To voice your concerns regarding this officer’s behavior, contact the following individuals and offices:

Internal Affairs – Los Angeles Police Department
304 South Broadway, Suite 215
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Office: 213-485-1486
Fax: 213-473-6420

Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles

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

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

When the News Becomes the News

NPRO Rally: Free State vs. Police State

Here’s the second installment of a series of our NPRO Rally videos that will be posted throughout the week, culminating on Friday with a recap of the whole weekend rally. 

As you see, this encounter at the Port of Long Beach was drama-free. The Harbor Patrol were friendly and civil and took the appropriate tone, as opposed to many law enforcement officers who see a camera and immediately get suspicious, aggressive and condescending. The main officer seen here is probably an amiable guy in general, but I think he was also playing the game differently, being funny and congenial and conciliatory in order to get the same information they all want – names, addresses, social security numbers. I called him on this and he played it off like I was crazy to even suggest a thing – who me?! He must have thought he was being pretty clever asking where we were parked (“Do you guys have a car or something?”), assuming he would ID us through our license plates. He knew that when you’re not breaking any laws you can refuse to identify yourself – as we did.

So, it was fine enough, but a few things still bothered me. 1) The call the refinery security guard put out after speaking with us was that it was a physical altercation, and that’s just a complete fabrication. How did this conversation get blown into a physical altercation, necessitating the need for four patrol cars? And 2) The female officer at the end of the video said we should have informed them of our plans to shoot at the port, framing it as a “common courtesy.” 

Yes, sure. We could also notify the police when we’re going grocery shopping and jogging in the park. That’s what you do in a police state.

Photographers’ Rights Rally Weekend 2009



It’s been a year since we held our first National Photographers’ Rights Organization (NPRO) rally in Los Angeles, and a lot has happened since then. Over the past 12 months, hundreds of us have been harassed by security guards and law enforcement for practicing a perfectly legal activity while in public. Some of us have even witnessed or personally experienced an unlawful arrest by an out-of-control cop. But with the help of our cameras, the grassroots mobilization of the internet and our lobbying of companies and public officials, we have stood up to this abuse and forced change.

For instance, Amtrak finally released a policy on photography and the NYPD’s leaked policy document says to stop the harassment of photographers shooting in public. So in order to progress even further, promote even more awareness and stand up for our rights, NPRO is holding a Photographers’ Rights Rally Weekend this year that will kick off in the Los Angeles Harbor/Port of Long Beach on Saturday June 6th, and end on June 7th in Downtown Los Angeles.

Before attending this event, it is important that we all educate ourselves about the law and photography. To learn the essentials it’s best to start with Bert Krages’ ubiquitous “The Photographer’s Right.” Read it. Memorize it. Print it. The knowledge you obtain from this document will help protect yourself when confronted by law enforcement or security staff when taking pictures in public.

You can also check out the numerous links in section 9 of this blog’s sidebar, which provide you with even more information regarding the law and photography.

Most importantly though, no matter what we are told by law enforcement, California Wiretapping Law legally permits us to secretly record police, or anybody for that matter, when they are in public and there is no expectation of privacy. We do not need a cop’s acknowledgment or permission to record their threats.

It’s extremely important that we bring video cameras and/or audio recording devices to document the unlawful actions of  cops and security guards.

So put on your rally lens caps and clear your schedules for the first weekend in June.

NPRO Rally – Saturday, June 6th
Location: Los Angeles Harbor/Port of Long Beach
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Directions From Downtown Los Angeles: 110 S to Anaheim St Exit, Turn Left on Figueroa Place, Turn Left on W Anaheim St, W Anaheim St Turns Into E Anaheim St, End At N Henry Ford Ave, Park On Street
Directions From the 405 N/S: Exit 33B S Wilmington Ave, Travel West on S Wilmington Ave, Take First Left at E 223rd St, Right on S Alameda St, Continue on S Alameda St, Veer Left on to N Henry Ford Ave, End at Intersection of E Anaheim St and N Henry Ford Ave, Park on Street


NPRO Rally – Sunday, June 7th
Location: Pershing Square, Corner of S. Hill St. & W. 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
Time: 11:30 a.m.

Threatened With Arrest

Last week I wrote about a confrontation between myself and the LAPD while legally photographing a crime scene where a man had been killed. During the encounter LAPD officers berated, bullied and threatened me with unlawful arrest for supposedly obstructing their investigation. At no point did  I encroach on the crime scene, or cross police tape to photograph the incident. I was well within my legal rights granted to me by the US Constitution and LAPD’s Media Relations Handbook.

A Sticky Situation in Coney Island

A diver jumps off the pier at Coney Island
Photo by Simon Lund

From an interesting article in the Village Voice, commercial photographer Simon Lund was taking photos in Coney Island over Memorial Day weekend when he was forced to give up his film.

It all started when he unknowingly (if at all) took a photo of a woman’s young son. She became angry and demanded he erase the picture. (Which makes me think the kid was in the witness protection program, but that’s neither here nor there.) Lund explained he couldn’t because he was shooting film, so she involved the cops, who intimidated Lund into handing over his film.

Lund knew he wasn’t in the wrong, and it’s easy to say now, “Why didn’t he just walk away?!” But when a woman and her irate family are yelling at you and you’re surrounded by a group of NYPD — one of which says, “You’ve got to give up your film, or things are going to get much worse for you” — you might not be thinking crystal clearly.

In the article, Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union, says: “Police officers are not allowed to look at images without consent of the photographer, and they have no authority to order someone to let them look at their pictures or to confiscate their film.”

If only Lund could have reminded them of that.

To give Deputy Inspector Robert Johnson and the 60th Precinct (which oversees Coney Island) your thoughts, call 718-946-3311.

Article via Village Voice.

See some of Simon Lund’s Coney Island photos here.

Harassed, Threatened, and Berated by Andrews International’s Security Guards

Andrews International Security Guard Vasquez #782 Assaults Photographer Photo by discarted

NOTE: This guard did not have anything to do with the incident described below.

I was recently harassed by Andrews International security for photographing them in public at the Hollywood/Highland Metro station. Street photography is completely legal, and anybody, including minors and police, can be photographed in public at any time.

Here is the letter that I sent to Roger Andrews, executive vice president of Andrews International. I have not received any kind of response — or even an acknowledgement from them.

The email was also sent to Councilmen Tom LaBonge and Eric Garcetti (whose districts Hollywood falls in), and neither one of them did anything. Councilman LaBonge did personally call me and promised to call back the following week, which he didn’t.

Mr. Andrews,

I am writing you in regard to an incident that occurred on May 3, 2008 between myself and some of your officers. I am a documentary as well as a street photographer, and yesterday I was berated, touched(technically assault) and threatened with arrest and detainment by some your officers, particularly security guard Ferguson #4730, after legally photographing them in public. Obviously, your officers have not been educated about the law in regards to street photography and the rights of photographers; this is the second occurrence like this that has happened between your officers and myself.

After photographing your officers, they were completely belligerent, stating that they 
were private security officers and I was required to answer their questions, which is not true. Ferguson #4730 also tried to take my photograph, which I agreed to, but he couldn’t find a camera so he followed me around and eventually stopped me, forcing me to look up at one of the security cameras. This entire series of events is laughable because it appeared in his mind that laws that allow the city to photograph me at any time in public do not apply to Ferguson #4730 and the rest of your officers. On top of that, after having my photo taken, Ferguson #4730 then asked me if I was in the military and I said, “No, I don’t believe in the military.” He then exploded and said, “I fucking built this land you’re standing on! Get outta here!”

After that, I walked around for a few minutes thinking about what happened and decided to go back to get the officers’ badge numbers. Once Ferguson #4730 realized what I was doing, he immediately covered up his badge with his hand and started yelling, “Oh no, you ain’t getting that!” To which I stated, “You are legally required by law to give me your badge number.” That is when Ferguson #4730 along with the other officers threatened me with arrest and tried to detain me. However, I am quite aware of the law, because I am on the street practically everyday taking photographs and told them they couldn’t detain me. Ferguson #4730 would not relent and used his entire body to block me from leaving; that is when he touched me, which is assault. One of the other officers stepped in and told him to stop and took him aside to speak with him. I did not leave, told them to call the police, and waited for BID Patrol to arrive. I was questioned but not arrested because I did not do anything illegal.

While the BID Patrol security guards gave me a very nice lecture on humanity, they didn’t seem to care about the way Ferguson #4730 and the other officers reacted in an unlawful, belligerent, and inhumane manner towards me.

I am requesting that all video footage of the area in front of the Hollywood/Highland Metro stop in Los Angeles, CA, between 6PM and 7:30PM on May 3, 2008 be retained for viewing, as well as kept for evidence. I will be speaking to a lawyer this week as well exploring my other options via the city and Los Angeles Metro.

Ferguson’s unlawful behavior, along with the other officers, and more importantly, their lack of knowledge for the law is unacceptable.

BID Patrol also asked me if I was an attorney, to which I said, “No, but I don’t have to be an attorney to know the law. Since you’re not an attorney either that must mean you don’t know the law as well…which is the reason why this all happened in the first place.”

Voice Your Concerns and Write:

Roger Andrews:

Antonio Villaraigosa:

Tom LaBonge:

Eric Garcetti:

Rich Morallo, Metro Citizens Advisory Council: (213) 922-233

Captain Dan Finkelstein, MTA chief of transit police: (213) 922-2707/922-2700

Rick Jager/Marc Littman, MTA media relations: (213) 922-2707/922-2700

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