Civil Liberties

Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse, Unless You're in Law Enforcement


Part of a recurring theme. In addition to my prior post today, here's a roundup of other photography/video stories in the news of late:

  • Earlier this month, Carlos Miller—who runs the Photography Is Not a Crime blog—was "banned" from Miami's Metrorail system after guards from the firm hired to provide security for the system, and then Miami police officers, wrongly told him he wasn't permitted to shoot video at the train station. Miller returned this week with his camera and a crew from HDNet TV. Things got violent.
  • The Washington Post catalogs a number of incidents in which police have arrested, harassed or detained photographers and cell phone videographers in jurisdictions where the law is quite clear on their right to record and photograph in public.
  • The New York Times photography blogger David Dunlap documents another incident.
  • Also from the Times, an incident in which a photographer was wrongly stopped by police from taking pictures at an Amtrak station. He was shooting for a photography contest sponsored by Amtrak.

The common thread in all of these stories is that the police were wrong on the law, and the photographers were right. If the photographers had been mistaken, they could be arrested and charged. Not knowing the law isn't an excuse for breaking it. But when law enforcement officials don't know the law, and wrongly prevent someone from photographing or recording, or even illegally detain and arrest someone, it's a shrug and a sigh and we all move on.