Occupy Wall Street: Cops and Camera's Don't Mix

Occupy Wall Street: Cops and Camera's Don't Mix

Recently, MSNBC ran an article titled 'First Amendment rights can be terminated': When cops, cameras don't mix that highlighted the increasing discomfort felt by police officers when being photographed. Affordable cameras, video recorders, and cell phones transform ordinary people into citizen journalists. The publishing limitations of traditional media, such as bias, selective editing and censorship, have been overcome thanks to a range of accessible Internet tools; We can now publish pictures, videos, and our opinions individually with almost no restrictions. Some law enforcement officials seem to be struggling with this new media phenomenon. In the last two decades, police departments have been repeatedly embarrassed by material recorded by citizen journalists. In some of the Occupy protests, they have responded by harassing and arresting photographers and journalists, despite the fact that courts have repeatedly upheld that citizens in public spaces have the right to film things they see in plain sight. Our First Amendment right!

The two photos that you see on this page were taken during the Occupy Wall Street, Solidarity with Quebec Student Strike march. When I took the above photo, I was on the crosswalk and my camera recorded that the focus point was 16 feet away. When the officer on the right noticed my camera, he became uncomfortable and began yelling, telling me to get off the crosswalk despite that the light was green. There were people pointing and shouting at him only a few feet away, yet he targeted me. I guess my big camera made him uncomfortable.

In the shot below, although the protestor was riding her bike on the dedicated bike lane, she was being harassed for riding slowly. Then one officer stopped in front of her and she fell of her bike. They were ready to arrest her, possibly for assaulting a police officer, until one of the officers pointed at the cameras. They backed off and urged her to move on. I guess they remembered a similar incident from two years ago, when a cyclist was charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, until a video emerged showing that it was the NYPD police officer that had shoved him off his bike. In that incident, the charges were dropped and the officer fired.

Those of us who take photographs in public places, and of law enforcement officials, have to be very familiar with the the laws regarding photography. Furthermore, we have to understand that cameras can be very intimidating to officers and give them sufficient room to perform their duties. On the other hand, police brutality, whether in physical, verbal, or psychological form, is inexcusable. Cases of police brutality are often investigated by internal police commissions who are regularly criticized for a lack of accountability and bias. Cameras help keep officers in check. The whole world is watching.

More Occupy photos.


Song of the Day: Biko - Peter Gabriel (1987)
<< PreviousNext >>








Feed SubscriptioneMail SubscriptionContact

Copyright © 2010-2017 - ThirstyFish.com