Posts Tagged 'photographing transit'

How Well Does NJ Transit Know the Law?

A self-described train enthusiast took it upon himself to test the people who work for New Jersey Transit on if they know their own photo policy. Pretty uneventful, except for a PATH police officer who gets a little handsy and invokes the Patriot Act.

PATH Police: You’re in a train station here, OK?
Guy: OK.
PATH Police: It is part of the Patriot Act if you want to look it up you can, OK?

I can’t find where it says you can’t film train stations in the Patriot Act. The PATH does have its own policy barring photography, which is outrageous considering it is a public entity. (I know firsthand because I was ordered to stop taking photos of my nephew in a PATH station.) It’d just be nice if these people knew the laws regarding their jobs, though.

Watch Out, Ottawa


Photo by Transit Scope

In another example of security theater — measures that make the public feel like their government is working to keep them safe but are largely ineffectual — the transit authority for greater Gatineau and Ottawa in Canada have instituted a security initiative where riders are asked to be on alert for suspicious activity. Among the suspicious things to look out for:

An individual taking photos or pictures in a location that has no particular interest, drawing maps or sketches, taking notes or wandering in the same location for an unusually long time;

The problem with this directive of course is that who is determine what has “no particular interest”? I might find subway tracks extremely interesting to photograph, but a fellow passenger thinks they’re not of interest and reports me to the authorities. Problems ensue.

And if you want to the sketch the subway? Well, just forget about it…especially if you are prone to pacing.

Article from Boing Boing

Photography *Is* Suspicious


Photo by Andrew Cichowski

When will photographers learn to take their stinking artsy photography someplace other than public?!

In San Jose this past weekend, photographer Andrew Cichowski writes on his blog  how he was stopped for taking photos of a fence around a train station. The police wanted to know why he was “suspiciously photographing industrial stuff for.” Despite admitting that nothing about what Cichowski was doing was illegal, the two police officers ran his ID, got his social security number and took photos of him. Eventually – and after two more squad cars arrived -they determined Cichowski was not a terrorist threat, but they still copied his CF card and two flash drives onto a laptop.

Cichowski calls this a waste of time and taxpayer dollars, but we call it a scary infringement on his rights. Those cops were way out of line, and they broke so many laws with that detainment it’s mind-boggling. But, hey, always gotta be vigilant about terrorists shooting in daylight.

Also this weekend  in California, blogger Mojoey writes about being told to stop taking photos of an Arco gas station in La Mirada. Which is just puzzling because what’s the reasoning behind prohibiting photos of a dumpy little gas station in So Cal? Are they trying to claim terrorism or trademark infringement or private property, or what? For good measure, Mojeoey included the Google Maps photo with his post. Yep, the photos are already out there, folks. Protesting is futile.

Articles from Redesign the World (via Photography Is Not a Crime) and Deep Thoughts

Rick “Dirty” Sanchez Ignores Facts, Spins Story

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In a desperate attempt to spin a story to his liking, Rick “Dirty” Sanchez (a man known for hitting Jeffrey Smuzinick with his car during a drunk driving accident and fleeing the scene, as well as publicly attacking Fox News for their lies) decided to ignore some very important facts regarding my detainment during his broadcast yesterday. However, even though his three-minute smear campaign against me was an honest and accurate report in his delusional mind, it’s too bad that others saw right through Sanchez’s gutter journalism report and have started calling him on it.

If you would like to voice your disgust at Rick Sanchez and his producer, Janelle Griffin, for spinning this story and running such a lopsided and biased segment (which intentionally and egregiously did not air Sheriff Gylfie’s lies, false claims, and threats), you can contact Janelle at (404) 827-1500. I’m sure she’ll appreciate your call, and make sure to ask her the following questions:

  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie saying, “It’s against MTA rules,” when photography is allowed on the Metro? More important, why did you include the entire beginning, but removed only this section of the video?
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie threatening Shawn when he said, “You know what, I’ll just submit your name to ah…(chuckles)…T.L.O.”
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie threatening Shawn when he said, “You’ll be on the FBI’s hit list. Is that what you want? That’s the direction you’re heading.”
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie threatening Shawn when he said, “We’ll just put your name on the hit list, dude…that’s fine.”
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie’s inaccurate claims about bombs being planted in the London subway bombings, when the explosions were caused by suicide bombers?
  • Why did you cut out Richard Gylfie’s inaccurate claims that photos were taken by the 7/7 terrorists prior to the attack being carried out when, in fact, photos were not taken? The four men involved in the attack did a trial run, which did not include taking photos.
  • Why did Rick claim in the segment that Shawn “is clearly out to provoke the officer, it seems, to try to make him look like a jerk” when that is absolutely not true? Do you have actual evidence to back up this claim?
  • Did Rick intentionally try to publicly smear Shawn by purposely leaving out very important facts involving his detainment?
  • Why did Janelle Griffin call Shawn on Wednesday morning to berate him, demand to know his attorneys’ names, and threatened to make him look bad on the show after he told her he was not going to participate?

Finally, if you’re going to call Janelle, make sure you do it during normal business hours, because as the producer of “Dirty” Sanchez’s show she apparently only checks her messages during that time.

MTA’s Contradictory Photo Guidelines

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Last Saturday on Halloween I was detained at the Hollywood/Western Metro stop by LA County sheriffs for taking photos of the newly installed turnstiles that were still under construction and decorated with pretty yellow caution tape. During my detainment (which will be address publicly soon), I was told by one of the sheriffs that taking photos was against MTA’s policy. Well, of course I knew this was not true and stated that to the officer, which didn’t curb his aggressiveness towards me or prevent him from threatening to put my name on the FBI’s “hit list.” But that’s not the point; the officer’s behavior doesn’t matter (for now at least) because the focus of this post is the MTA’s contradictory photography guidelines.

After my exciting detainment, I went home and read over the MTA’s photography guidelines, and sure enough, just like I mentioned during my not-so friendly encounter with the sheriff, photography is allowed on the Los Angeles County MTA system. That is — only in public space.

However, as I read through their guidelines I became rather perplexed because the MTA guidelines also state no photography inside moving trains for privacy and safety reasons.”

What the hell does that mean…“no photography inside moving trains for privacy reasons”?

Whose privacy are they trying to protect? How is there any more privacy on a public train system while it’s moving than when it’s not moving? How can an expectation of privacy even exist inside a public transit car? Does this also mean, according to MTA policies, that a Metro rider can only have an expectation of privacy while riding in one of their moving cars but not anywhere else on Metro property, which is pretty much all public space? Does an expectation of privacy even exist anywhere on Metro property? It’s all public space!

In my personal and non-legal opinion, I would have to say that this specific policy is bogus and designed to protect MTA personnel from any sort of liability. There can’t be an expectation of privacy anywhere on the MTA because the entire system is public. And we should all be able to take photos anywhere on the system, including inside moving train cars. How else will we be able to catch MTA drivers texting on the job?

SF Muni to Halt Harassment Very Soon

It seems the San Francisco Muni, the city’s transportation agency, is finally being forced to publicize its policy regarding photography. After several incidents where passengers have been harassed by drivers and fare inspectors, including this disturbing one involving a  high school student (yes, the inspector actually says the Muni is private property), SF Appeal asked an MTA spokesperson for answers. The spokesperson said a policy is forthcoming (“soon”), while allowing that it will say non-commercial photography is allowed as long as it doesn’t disturb transit. 

Muni inspectors in the meantime are being re-trained on how to deal (or not deal, as the case may be) with photographers. Rather smartly, the Appeal asked the spokesperson what one should do if they are harassed by a Muni staffer.  

His answer: “Ask to speak to their supervisor. If that doesn’t work, call 311 and file a complaint with all the details.”

Article from SF Appeal via Streetsblog San Francisco



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