Posts Tagged 'Erin McCann'

Another Hearing on Photographer Harassment

Erin McCann, a DC photographer and activist for photographers’ rights, sent an email today with news that there will be a Congressional hearing on photographer harassment this Wednesday, September 23 at 2 pm EST.

We posted on last year’s Congressional hearing on photography rules in Union Station, which ultimately clarified the fact that it’s quite legal to shoot there despite multiple incidents where  their security insisted otherwise. Now, it seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) wants to get to the bottom of the similarly outrageous  harassment at the Department of Transportation (we’ve posted on it here and here) in a hearing entitled “Risk-based Security in Federal Buildings: Targeting Funds to Real Risks and Eliminating Unnecessary Security Obstacles.”

Erin will be testifying about the recent DOT incidents. From Erin’s email:

There is no law forbidding the taking of photographs of public buildings–federal or not–and yet our current security climate operates under the assumption that photographers are always suspicious. Photographers have been harassed on a regular basis in recent years, and several have been arrested. Del. Norton’s support for our rights is significant and very much appreciated.
Erin will be Tweeting from the hearing and you can follow her Twitter feed here on Wednesday.

Congress Weighs in on Photographers’ Rights

Photo courtesy of Sanjay Suchak

It was six months in the making, but photographers now finally know that it’s perfectly legal to shoot in DC’s Union Station.

The Congressional Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management held a hearing today on Union Station, in part to address the issue of its improper and inconsistent enforcement of photography rules. 

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who chaired the hearing, called the situation “pathetic,” noting an incident last spring where a Union Station security officer tried to shut down an interview that the local Fox station was conducting with an Amtrak spokesperson.

Representatives from Amtrak and the company that manages Union Station, Jones Lang LaSalle, testified that it’s legal to take photos in the station and the high turnover of security staff was to blame for the inconsistencies.

Erin McCann, local photographer and member of DC Photo Rights, testified that she’s just looking for some answers. She’s been getting the runaround from management and security guards for six months, getting conflicting information from just about everyone. She said:

I’ve never been clear on why, exactly, a camera is considered threatening. In the aftermath of the 2005 transit bombings in London, for instance, officials appealed to the public for snapshots taken before and after the attacks in their search for clues. An open photography policy can be a security team’s best friend. It also liberates security employees from the task of investigating people like me as I take photographs in the most obvious way possible. With a 10-inch lens on my camera, there is no disguising what I am doing.

Rep. Norton asked for an outline of the station’s new photography policy that is mindful of first amendment rights and a plan to re-train security staff, within 30 and 60 days, respectively.

Read and watch Fox 5’s report here.

Read Erin McCann’s testimony here.

See Erin McCann’s photos of the hearing here.

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