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06-30-2007, 07:04 PM   #1
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Outrage in Indianapolis

Read this story about a tourist photographer in Indianapolis who was surrounded, stopped, his cameras and pictures examined and then run off...

WTHR - Indianapolis News and Weather - Visitor didn't feel Hoosier hospitality
"Last Sunday, Walter Miller wanted lasting images to take back with him to Houston. He got them. To cap off his first F-1 race experience, he and his lens headed downtown. He had just snapped a photo of the Julian Opie Signs exhibit when signs of trouble converged.

"Two police cars came up," Miller said by phone Friday. "One on the side of me and one behind me with their lights flashing. And some officers got out and said 'what were you taking pictures of?' I said, 'Well the art exhibit.' He said, 'I need to see it, for matters of homeland security. You can't be taking pictures around here,'" Miller recalled the officer saying to him hours after the race. "
Sorry but I have to get on a soabbox here... THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!!

Any thoughts?

06-30-2007, 08:30 PM   #2
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I hadn't heard this, but sometimes this city does drive me nuts. Thanks for the read.

Edit: I still can't figure out why they would do this. Indianapolis =terrorist capitol of the world! Ha.
06-30-2007, 09:43 PM   #3
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My favorite line from the story:
"If in doubt, police say, tourists should confine their photographs to marked tourists spots."

Hmmm. What exactly does a 'marked tourist spot' look like?

I'm always amazed when I read of people being hassled like this, usually in the US or England (London in particular). As I have mentioned on here before, when we were visiting Ottawa, two of us spent a couple of hours wandering around the Parliament buildings (inside and out), both with SLR's, taking pictures of the site. At no time were we stopped or questioned. I was quite surprised that we were not restricted from taking pictures inside the buildings, as long as we were in public areas of the building. I have no doubt that we were observed while we were walking around (cameras everywhere after all), but the lack of apparent interest from the police was surprising, and refreshing.

I applaud Mr. Miller for coming forward with this. It makes one wonder how many people never complain when they are treated like this.

Chris
07-01-2007, 02:45 AM   #4
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Since much of the news has an agenda or bias, use common sense with reading stories like these. If Miller had "just snapped a photo of the Julian Opie Signs exhibit" as he now claims, I seriously doubt two police cars would have even had time to converge on his location with lights flashing. What had he photographed before that supposed snapshot? Did someone call the police because of his earlier actions? In other words, given all the tourists with cameras in the general area, what had he done to draw attention to himself in the first place - enough attention to cause two police officers to respond in this manner?

I have no doubts that police do occasionally overreact to situations, but the contrast between his story and common sense suggests this may not be one of those times. He was questioned and allowed to leave with pictures intact, which seems entirely reasonable.

stewart

07-01-2007, 03:08 AM   #5
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Anyhow you put it, anyway you try to explain this, it's stupid.

Maybe they shoot stop with 'marked tourist spot's'
and start with
'terrorist dedicated spot's'
the world would be more secure.
07-01-2007, 03:35 AM   #6
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I have to agree with Stewart, I have been in many towns in and round Indianapolis, i have photographed many downtown buildings and people. I have never been questioned by the police. There has to be more to this story then meets the eye. If there isn't then the police over reacted. Race week in Indy brings many strange people, But I have never known anyone in the entire state to react like this. (well there might be a few). My question here is what did he do to draw attention to himself? Who did he photograph before he was stopped? Some people just don't like their pictures taken and other's don't like it when you photograph their property. But all in all he had to pi** off some one or this would not have happened. I know Indy is a small town but I know the police have more to do then hassle some poor smuck with a camera on race week.
07-01-2007, 05:48 AM   #7
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I imagine there is more to the story as well... there always is, but the crux of the matter is that the police detained and searched a person on public property engaged in a legal activity.

With very few exceptions, you used to be able to take photos of ANYTHING visible from a public place, to include private property, government building, military facilities, etc, as long as YOU the photographer stayed in that public space and did not trespass onto private or government property. This was a well established part of American life and has a great deal of legal precedence since we are generally allowed to use OUR land, ie public land, for legal activities. And, whether the police like it or not, photography is a legal activity.

Even someone complaining that the guy took their photo is groundless. There is no expectation of privacy in a public place. If you are out in public you are at risk of being photographed at any time. Heck, more and more cities are adding surveilance cameras of their own. Walk 3 blocks in Washington DC and I guarantee that you have been photographed and cataloged at least 3 times.

No, this is just a case of an over reaching, over zealous government violating personal freedoms in the name of "homeland security." Every time something like this happens a terrorist somewhere smiles and raises a toast to another victory.

btw, before I am labeled an "ultra leftwing liberal nutjob" yours truly is a retired US Air Force Senior NCO who still works for HIS government...
07-01-2007, 06:31 AM   #8
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rambling - lots of rambling

It does make you wonder. More questions than answers come up here.

A possible view from the policeman's side:
my speculation: I would have to say someone who thought they were being helpful probably called police and told them someone suspicious was taking photographs of the government buildings.
And then the police reacted assuming the person was suspicious to begin with. If they drove by him on the street without someone else calling, I doubt they would have reacted the way they did.


Now either way, it is a shame that police have to act this way, but considering what's at stake, if someone had called them to investigate a suspicous person, would you blame them? (If they laugh it off and the place gets bombed a month down the road - how would they feel then?)

And don't think it couldn't happen in Indianapolis, you can't count on it always being a foreign terrorist, or attacking what you would typically think of as a target. Remember Oklahoma City?

The part that really bugs me though was this line:
According to IMPD, pictures of certain government facilities are off limits.

I wonder if that is a true statement - does the city of Indianapolis actually have restrictions on taking pictures of certain goverment buildlings? Do they treat news reporters the same way when reporting news going on at that city-county building?

Was he skulking around (trying to find good angles or a unique view) but possibly looked like someone trying to find all the ins and outs of a place?

At the very least, they let him keep his images. If it were me, I know I'd feel like going to the bathroom when two police cars would stop me and demand to know what I was doing - but I'd also be comfortable letting them look at the images on my camera, knowing I wasn't a terrorist and didn't have anything to hide either... I wouldn't necessarily feel my civil rights were violated (can you smell a lawsuit here??) - rather I would have the understanding that police may have to act a certain way to hopefully prevent something horrible from happening.

Again, not to say it's entirely nice - or effective - I mean, if a terrorist would want the scoop on a place, they could do Google Earth or any of the other various satellite views of wherever they want, all from the comfort of their living room...

it's such a complicated situation these days. Unfortunately I think it will get worse for us as photographers as the years go on.

07-01-2007, 07:00 AM   #9
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The "appropriate" police response in this situation should have been to have someone "watch" him from a discrete distance and only if it became more suspicious, approach the guy. I suspect though that they jumped on him right away under their opinion that "pictures of certain government facilities are off limits." Still fails the smell test for me.
07-01-2007, 07:57 AM   #10
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I do agree with you Mike - it really is a shame no matter how you look at it.

And I think it would be even more interesting to learn if the city does or does not have a law against photographing certain government facilities, and which ones they are exactly...

If they don't have such a law, then the police are making up laws as they go - and it should be stopped abruptly.
07-01-2007, 08:58 AM   #11
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Post 9/11, hrummphf.

Bill Clinton found that he could play golf in New Mexico 14 to 16 hours a day. The politicos at city, county and state level would simply bow, kiss profusely and make-it-happen. Even on public golf courses!

Damn funny to watch from the appropriate distance: Clinton, a small army of SS suits, and his professional ball setter--you know, the guy who always managed to find the prezidential ball in just the right spot on the fairway or green, no matter where the shot actually went.

Truth is that any politician can fly into Albuquerque and rub elbows with three (or more) major cultures on as little as an hours notice. GW's been here several times, especially post 9/11. I've got a spot over by the state fair gounds, next to McDonalds where I can snap his motorcade.

Some time back I shot competitive handgun events with the local police special units commanders, in particular the head of the motor patrol. He rides the 'rover' bike in the motorcade; racing ahead to check the route then back to time and pace the limos.

The last time GW dropped in, this cop roared up to me in my position, stopped, flipped up his visor and smiled. Didn't say a word because he was hardwired. I rested my f2.8 200mm zoom on his shoulder and snapped about 20 frames of the presidential limo, the decoy limo, the dignitary SUV and several of the Delta Force SUVs. Got some great grimace shots from those boys and girls. Sent copies to the public info office at the White House with a note expressing my 'thanks'. Got a nice letter signed by the president and an invite to shoot from a better position on the next visit.

And y'all thought I lacked tact and a graceful style, HA! It's all in presenting a polite professional demeanor--and knowing how and who to stroke and when!
07-01-2007, 02:17 PM   #12
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Makes you wonder what really happened. Within a year or so after 9/11 there was an incedent in Seattle that sounds like the same thing. A young American citizen was taking images at the Balard Locks, when (I can not remember if it was a Seattle Policeman or a Corp of Engineering guard) basically arrested him for taking pictures of the locks and the train bridge near the locks.

Come to find out his heritage was middle east. The thing to note is that there were hundreds of non middle east heritage people taking pictures all around. It makes one wonder about what was going on during the F1 race. Also - what happened to the "person" who called it in. I think it is about time that the Police start to keep track of the over-reactors too. That said, there is more going on here than the news report is reporting.

PDL
07-01-2007, 07:04 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by MRRiley Quote
I imagine there is more to the story as well... there always is, but the crux of the matter is that the police detained and searched a person on public property engaged in a legal activity.

While I agree this person was likely not involved in any illegal activity, the events described do not fit the legal definitions of either "detained" or "searched."


QuoteQuote:
With very few exceptions, you used to be able to take photos of ANYTHING visible from a public place, to include private property, government building, military facilities, etc, as long as YOU the photographer stayed in that public space and did not trespass onto private or government property. (snip)

Laws addressing the photography of installations, buildings, and so on, have been on the books for many decades. For example, 42 USC Sec. 2278b states it is unlawful to photograph "any installation or equipment designated by the President ... offense is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both." Doing so from a public place offers no defense whatsoever against this or similar laws.

stewart
07-01-2007, 08:06 PM   #14
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outrage

Once ,on assignment in Mexico ,I had the Federales stop me at gunpoint, take the film out of my camera, toss it on the ground, and luckily ,turn me loose. Thats an outrage.
07-01-2007, 09:16 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stewart_photo Quote
... Doing so from a public place offers no defense whatsoever against this or similar laws.

stewart
This quote from the statute seems to give some qualification ...

" It shall be an offense, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both -

(1) to make any photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map or graphical representation, while present on property subject to the jurisdiction, administration or in the custody of the Commission, of any installations or equipment designated by the President as requiring protection against the general dissemination of information relative thereto, in the interest of the common defense and security, without first obtaining the permission of the Commission, and promptly submitting the product obtained to the Commission for inspection or such other action as may be deemed necessary; or (2) to use or permit the use of an aircraft or any contrivance used, or designed for navigation or flight in air, for the purpose of making a photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map or graphical representation of any installation or equipment designated by the President as provided in the preceding paragraph, unless authorized by the Commission. "

The 'Commission' is the Atomic Energy Commission.

cheers,
Rick
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