Posts Tagged 'Philadelphia Police'

Bike Cops Arrest Photog at Nightclub Scene

Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/City Paper

Jauhien Sasnou, a freelance photographer in Philadelphia, was arrested last November for taking photos of a melee that took place outside of a nightclub. He was found guilty, fined $148 and ordered to do 24 hours of community service. The Philadelphia City Paper reports this week on Sasnou’s arrest and the ongoing problem photographers face when shooting scenes that involve law enforcement.

Sasnou says that, on the night in question, a group of concertgoers ignored police requests to disperse and shoving and pepper spray ensued. The whole incident took three minutes and three people were arrested – but not before Sasnou took out his camera to document what he describes as excessive force by the police. That’s when an officer noticed him and he was arrested. Sasnou was not informed what his crime was. (The police report says Sasnou “remained on location and began to take pictures” after he was told to leave.)

From the article:

Civil rights lawyers say that Sasnou’s experience isn’t uncommon. Although there doesn’t seem to be any hard data available, anecdotal evidence suggests that citizens who document police activity with cameras are frequently arrested.

In regards to photographing police officers, Pennsylvania apparently has a murky law that revolves around technicalities and the difference between “not prohibited” and “legally allowed.” Nevertheless, the Philadelphia police spokesman said photographing police activity is not something you should be arrested for.

And, finally, the writer makes this point, which is one we’ve long held on this blog:   

It is, perhaps, ironic in an age when, across the country, police cameras capture and ticket red-light-runners, and many traffic stops are videotaped from the dashboard of a squad car. “Well, all of a sudden when the shoe is on the other foot, it’s, ‘Wait, wait, there’s an intrusion of the wiretap act,'” says Paul Hetznecker, a Philadelphia civil rights lawyer.

Article via the City Paper

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