Posts Tagged 'federal courthouse'

Photographer Sues Homeland Security Dept.

Software developer, amateur photographer and self-proclaimed libertarian activist Antonio Musemeci and the NYCLU are suing the Department of Homeland Security for what they say was an unlawful arrest during a protest at the Manhattan federal courthouse last year. The lawsuit challenges a “government regulation that unconstitutionally restricts photography on federal property, including public plazas and sidewalks.”

Musumeci was videotaping the arrest of protestor Julian Heicklen in November 2009, when officers approached and asked what he was doing. Because he said he was freelancing (which he does for Free Talk Live – for free), he was arrested under a code which prohibits news or commercial photography on federal property. The situation was classic — very similar to the dozens of ones we’ve reported on here. The agents took his camera and poked around on it, talked down to him, threw their weight around. Ultimately only Musumeci’s memory card was confiscated after he suggested that would be the only relevant information for the agents. While charges against him were eventually dropped, Musumeci never got his memory card back.

From the NYCLU:

“We understand the need for heightened security around federal buildings, but the government cannot arrest people for taking pictures in a public plaza.”

It will be really interesting to see how this turns out, as it could be a watershed event for photographers’ rights.

You can read all of the events leading up to the arrest here.

Article from New York Daily News and blog of bile

Marshall Responds to Photographer Harassment

The local Madison, Wisconsin, paper Isthmus picked up the story this week about an incident that happened in October where photographer Josh Zytkiewicz was questioned by a security guard outside the federal courthouse. The guard told Zytkiewicz “security procedures” prohibited him from taking photos of the building and said he was calling the Madison police (which never arrived, if he did).

In a nice bit of reporting, the paper talked to Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Kirk Papenthien who admitted the courthouse is a popular landmark and not all people who shoot photos of it are stopped and questioned. When asked why the security guard told Zytkiewicz to stop taking photos and threatened to call the police, Papenthien says, in typically noncommittal law enforcement-speak, “I have no knowledge as to whether that is an accurate transcript.” Zytkiewicz recorded the conversation on his iPhone and you can listen to it here. Even so, Papenthien won’t admit that the guard was out of line because he said he didn’t know what Zytkiewicz was taking photos of.

But…if photography is legal at the courthouse, does it matter what the photos were of? So, is that to say, taking photos of windows are fine, but entryways are a different story? Of course not. It’s not a gray area, and shouldn’t be approached as one. When photography is legal in public, which it always is, then you can’t harass and threaten people for doing it.

Article via Isthmus



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