The Fight for Your Rights

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=statue+of+liberty&iid=7062008″ src=”8/b/f/a/TOURISM_2ef1.JPG?adImageId=8093134&imageId=7062008″ width=”234″ height=”176″ /]There’s a disturbing story on the Photo Attorney’s web site at It is about an amateur photographer being challenged by police officers at a public event in California.

It’s frustrating because she doesn’t allow comments on her site. I would have liked to have asked:

  1. What happened? The story just says the police officers demanded to see the pictures on his camera. Did he comply?
  2. It says the photographer was also an attorney. Therefore he likely had a good understanding of the law. What is the law in this situation? Did the fact that the photographer was on State property make a difference?
  3. The story does not quote any sources. How do we know it is complete and reliable?

It’s easy to get angry at stories like this, but I think we are seeing less than the full story. I thought the Photo Attorney would give her readers the full story and the legal facts behind it. Disappointing.

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4 Responses to “The Fight for Your Rights”

  1. Carolyn E. Wright Says:

    Sorry, I don’t allow comments on my site because I’m a full-time practicing attorney and photographer and don’t have time to monitor them! I’ve update the blog entry to provide more info as you have requested.


    • BKKPhotographer Says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you had a moment to monitor the pingback or whatever it’s called.

      I’m still not clear on the law in this case and I am not an attorney anywhere. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it seems to me to hinge on if the officers had “probable cause” to stop and search the photographer and what their powers are without a search warrant. That’s why I wondered if the photographer’s presence on State property was a factor.

      I can see if from the point-of-view of law enforcement. They want to play safe, safeguard the public and their careers. I am sure every LE officer has bad dreams about being the one who let a paedophile / terrorist / bad guy get away. I feel for the customs / immigration officers who allowed the 9/11 murderers into the US for example.

      What is the take-away from this story? Was that incident “harassment” – which I guess is illegal? Is it against the law for a LE officer to harass me? Where does “doing my job” cross over into harassment?

      Can a California LE officer demand ID? What if I am not carrying/don’t have a driver’s license? Is he within his rights to search a camera?

      What should I do?

      “Don’t bring my camera to events where they may be children?”, “Comply with LE demands at all times?”, “Contact my congressperson to get the law changed and clarified.” I am still confused.

  2. BKKPhotographer Says: is very good news in the UK. I have printed the Met’s statement and will take it with me the next time I go to the UK.

    HOWEVER the Terrorism Act gives police (I like the way the British don’t use the term Law Enforcement – I dislike the connotation of force therein) the right to stop and search anybody in a restricted area. And the public isn’t told what areas are restricted.

    But the main message is clear: police officers should not use the huge legal powers they possess when good old fashioned policing would work as well and cause less resentment.

    It’s hard to have such a statement in the US because there are so many legal authorities and law enforcement agencies.

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