I've been coming across a lot of stories lately in the media about police cracking down on photographers taking photos in public places. It has me thinking about all those kids you see with shirts that say "Skateboarding is not a Crime." I never really 'got it' before. I mean, were they really persecuted by police just for carrying around a skateboard? I've never had one so I don't know. Being a photographer though, I'm definately concerned about the idea that a police officer might detain me or seize my gear simply because I was taking photographs in a public space.
Last month in Vancouver there was an incident where a newspaper photographer had his gear confiscated by police. Also in Vancouver a kid had his cell phone camera deleted by police. I recently read this article about police in the UK forcing tourists to delete their photos. I found the comment by the tourists from Austria interesting where they said such actions were not even taken by police in a communist nation. Amtrack was famously in the news this year after someone taking photos for their own sponsored photo contest was arrested for taking pictures of their trains.
I know since 9/11 we have certainly clamped down on our own civil liberties and that our governments have seen fit to be suspicous of everyone. But it seems to me that the more we move toward a police state where freedoms and civil liberties are trampled on by the police that are here to protect us, the more we have hopelessly lost our fight to protect the democratic society we all love. I know there are skateboarders out there running down old ladies and probably photographers using cameras for bad reasons, but it hardly seems right to harass people just through association with a few bad apples that happen to use the same gear. The day we move closer to guilty until proven innocent than innocent until proven guilty is the day that we have all lost any gains made by our grandparents and ancestors when they fought for our freedoms.
On a more positive note, I wanted to pass on a link to Bill Algood's Smugmug gallery (while it stays up) as sort of a tribute to his photography. Bill passed away from heart complications a couple weeks ago, I mentioned him in yesterdays post.