Posts Tagged 'public transit'

MBTA Workers Harass Photographer

Photo by Brian W. Green

This week, a photographer named Brian W. Green got accosted in the Boston subway for taking photos. Here’s the conversation, from his blog

Driver – “it is very rude to take my photo and i dont like that” 

I felt it was better to just ignore her since it was 12:30 at night and i was a few stops away from home. Well at the next stop a security officer for the MBTA got on board and this is kinda how that went.

Him – “are you taking photos of the driver”

Me – “no -holds out camera- you can gladly look at what i have been taking photos of”

Him – “could u step off the train and talk to me” 

Me – “no i told you im not taking photos of her and i have offered to show you if thats not enough then so be it”

at that point he picks up his walkie talkie and tells his dispatcher that he might need boston police.

Me – “just look, -Holds out camera-“

Him – “no thats ok i do not need to see your camera but are you sure you were not taking photos of her” 

Me – ” yes im pretty fucking sure i know what im taking photos of”

at that point i got off the train and went to the second car.

So, what’s up, Boston? Don’t tell me you’re joining the ranks of other ignorant cities (New York, Washington, LA) that needlessly harass photographers on public transit.

MTA’s Contradictory Photo Guidelines


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?

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