Posts Tagged 'Jerome Vorus'

DC’s Most Detained Photographer Gets Detained Again

Last October, as a result of a pretty major lawsuit brought by the New York chapter of the ACLU, the federal government agreed to end the harassment of photographers outside all federal buildings. Sadly, not all federal employees have been apprised of the decision.

Here is photographer Jerome Vorus’s story of his encounter outside DC’s Superior Court, from our NPRO flickr group. (You might remember Vorus has been detained at Reagan National Airport and on the streets of DC in the recent past for his photography activities.)

On February 10, 2011, I was taking photographs around Capitol Hill and started to take photos of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (the corner of 6th and C Street NW), at which time I was stopped by a Court Security Officer (CSO) who told me that my actions of taking photographs were unlawful, and that I would need to stop taking pictures of the building even from the public sidewalk. The CSO (Gasser) then called for US Marshals for assistance and I was immediately stopped by deputy Torrance Wilson (4101) and Shanks (4475). I was told that I was being stopped for photography.

Both deputy Marshals began to enlist personal information from me, asking for my identification at which time I asked “am I being detained or am I free to go”. Both officers told me that I was not being detained, that I was “being stopped for questioning” I continued to ask “am I being detained or am I free to go” I was then told that I was being detained because I recording them. Deputy Wilson then called a supervisor for assistance because it was obvious that they were not knowledgeable of the law as it regards to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Continue reading ‘DC’s Most Detained Photographer Gets Detained Again’

ACLU Takes on DC Police in Photog Harassment Case

Photograph by Jerome Vorus

This past summer, photographer Jerome Vorus was harassed and detained by DC police when he tried to take photos of a traffic stop in Georgetown. The incident touched off a mini firestorm, with mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post and NBC crying foul. (It always helps when these things happen in a major media hub.) People were rightfully alarmed at the cops’ arrogance (telling him it was illegal to take photos of the police) and their violation of Vorus’ rights.

In a letter to DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier, a lawyer from ACLU’s DC chapter demands the police acknowledge the incident in the form of a settlement and an apology – or  a lawsuit will follow. If this doesn’t make police departments sit up and take notice, it should.

Times are changing, and it’s not fun and games and unlimited power anymore. The ACLU is very proactive on the photographers’ rights issue, and with photographer Antonio Musumeci’s recent settlement with the federal government, they have a pretty good track record of winning. Sometimes the only way you can change institutional behavior, or implement “corrective training” as the ACLU calls it, is with a costly lawsuit. Too bad it’s the taxpayers who will pay for these public servants’ ignorance.

MSM Backs Photographers’ Rights

Photographer Jerome Vorus’ July 3rd encounter with DC police on a Georgetown street has gotten a lot of traction in the media, with reports on, NBC Washington, Reason magazine’s blogWe Love DC and DCist, among others. It surprised me because, if you follow these things, it was a pretty run of the mill event. Maddening, ridiculous,probably  illegal, yes — but pretty standard.

But for some reason the media really jumped on it. And the more mainstream outlets that highlight the absurdity of this harassment, the more likely police departments will review their policies and educate their officers.

On a related note, in an editorial yesterday, USA Today came out in support of the rights of citizens to film police activity. (Be sure to also read the counter point from the police union. Overall, I just don’t buy the “these videos must be viewed in context in order to be understood” argument. I think the Oscar Grant killing, the Times Square cyclist attacks and the UMD beatings, to name a few recent ones, all stand on their own.)

Photographer Captures DC’s Finest

Photograph by Jerome Vorus

Photographer Jerome Vorus had a little trouble with TSA authorities at Regan National Airport last month, and this past weekend he ran afoul of the Washington, DC police too.

It happened when he came across a routine traffic stop in Georgetown and took a few photos. One of the DC police officers on the scene told him he was being detained and needed to provide identification. Then no less than four officers told him it was illegal to take photos of people without their permission and one has to get approval from the department’s public information officer to take photos of police.

It seems weird that people who are being paid to uphold the law don’t even know it…oh. Wait. It’s DC. One of the most notoriously corrupt, ineffectual governments in the country. Where incompetence isn’t just tolerated, it’s encouraged.

Now it makes sense!

Read the whole encounter on Vorus’ blog here.

Photographer Harassed, Detained at DC Airport

Photo by Jerome Vorus

June 1st marks the day NPRO stands up for photographers’ rights, and for the past two years we’ve held a rally in Los Angeles where we’ve gathered to assert our right to shoot in public. So stand up and be counted…or stand up and shoot in your own city, and if you’re stopped and harassed just remember your rights.

And now, in honor of the day, another incident in the annals of clashes between photographers and authorities….

In March, 18-year-old and photographer Jerome Vorus was taking photos at Reagan National Airport in Virginia because that’s what he likes to do. Knowing the airport was a sensitive location, he spoke to a media relations representative beforehand and asked about any restrictions. He was told there were none. He and  the representative went over which areas were leased by private companies (like the check-in counters) and she said she would notify airport police and TSA officials.

Still, the message didn’t seem to get through. As Vorus shot photos, TSA employees approached him twice and asked what he was doing. The third time, he was approached by TSA in suits who asked whether he’d spoken with media relations. Even though Vorus told them he had, they said he could not take photos of TSA employees or checkpoints. To clarify, so that he could understand the situation he was in more fully, Vorus asked the men if he could see their credentials. One man replied, “We ain’t gotta show you shit.” Vorus pressed because he knew they are required by law, and so they did. It turns out they were Department of Homeland Security officers, and when Vorus asked if he was being detained he was told no. Things got heated and there was some back and forth over being detained versus being free to go.

Ultimately Vorus was told he was being detained and he would be arrested for disorderly conduct. His camera was taken and photos were deleted. And then, when all was said and done, he was free to go. Afterward Vorus filed a complaint with the airport authority’s internal affairs and received a letter a few weeks ago that acknowledged the officer did violate policy. TSA has not gotten back to him about the complaint filed with them.

The thing is, friction naturally occurs when law enforcement officers very badly want some trouble and an innocent person knows his rights are being violated. That is a predictable clash, and it happens all the time — but it doesn’t have to.

Article from Vorus Blog

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