At right is a Supreme Court police officer approaching me to admonish me that cannot be where I am - the public front steps of the US Supreme Court - to take photographs - this, before 9/11, as if that's actually a valid excuse. It is not.
(Continued after the Jump)
Countless times I have been directed (or watched others directed) by overzealous authorities with a badge (and sometimes a gun) to leave an area because we were press, while the general public was allowed to wander aimlessly in the area - or even shoot pictures with a point-and-shoot - and threatened with arrest if the directions were not heeded. This is, and has always been, unacceptable. Yet, I take high offense when the blanket excuse is "...you can't do that/be here because of national security..." .
The ACLU cites law enforcement programs that "suggest that photography is a 'precursor behavior' to terrorism, and direct the police to react accordingly." So is driving a car to your intended destination to commit terrorism, and feeding yourself during the process. Ludicrous, I know. Yet, it's the comparable. Further, anyone who really wants to take a photo can do so surreptitiously.
As someone who has worn a press credential for over 20 years, and who served two terms as the President of the White House News Photographers Association, I have seen too many egregious encroachments on the tenets of the First Amendment, and it's nice to see the ACLU taking a stand on this issue.
Be sure to read, print, and carry a copy of the ACLU's "Know Your Rights: Photographers" guide to "Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties."
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