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‘YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FILM:’ The Fight To Control Who Reports From Portland.

“YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FILM!” is a cry you hear incessantly at protests in Portland, Oregon, always shouted at close range to your face by after-dark demonstrators. You can assert that, yes, you can film; you can point out that they themselves are filming incessantly; you can push their hands away from covering your phone; you can have your phone record them stealing your phone—all of these things have happened to me—and none will have any impact on their contention that “YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FILM” and its occasional variation, “PHOTOGRAPHY EQUALS DEATH!”

I cannot say who came up with these anti-camera battle cries. But it’s easy to understand why protesters use them: to shape the narrative the country sees about the protests. And that narrative, in my estimation after many weeks covering street clashes in a city where I lived for 15 years, is 90 percent bullshit.

I wondered, the first time I attended the protests at the federal building back in July, who all these young people with PRESS emblazoned on their jackets or helmets were. I asked one such guy who he worked for.

“Independent Press Corps,” he told me. As it turned out, dozens of other young PRESS people happened to work for the same outfit, which I at first assumed was a fancy way of saying “I want to report stuff and stream it on my Instagram.”

This turned out to be naive. The IPC is an organized group in league with the activists, and it is usually their footage you see streamed online and recycled on the news: mostly innocent protestors being harassed and beaten by police.

Found via Will Collier, who tweets, “Commie thugs in Portland have adopted the media intimidation tactics of middle eastern terrorists. What a non-surprise to learn that the @nytimes acquiesces and supports their propaganda.”

PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT A CRIME: Video vigilante said he was ‘rude,’ but not breaking the law recording at MGH.

A video vigilante charged with trespassing at Massachusetts General Hospital said he agrees he may have been “rude,” but he doesn’t want to be tossed in jail where fears of coronavirus are running rampant.

John L. McCullough told the Herald Tuesday evening he is a First Amendment crusader who takes videos of police and posts them to YouTube. That’s what got him a June 2 arraignment date.

“I understand how people may feel, but that doesn’t mean I should be locked up,” McCullough said, adding he posts his work to “The Resistance” channel on the video platform.

“Did I break the law? No. I may have been rude,” he added. “I understand people may feel jittery, but where peoples’ feelings start my rights don’t stop.”

McCullough, 41, was charged with trespassing, disturbing the peace and threats to do bodily harm after police say he refused to stop recording Sunday evening, as the Herald reported.

He’s accused of recording video at MGH of a ramp where “hundreds of nurses, doctors, physician assistants, and other medical staff arriving and leaving the hospital after a 12 hour shift during the COVID-19 Pandemic” could be seen leaving, according to a police report. . . .

McCullough said “20 other cameras” were probably rolling at the same time as he was — alluding to security cameras in the area.

Yes, but those are approved by Authority. Plus:

Cambridge civil-rights attorney Harvey Silverglate said McCullough will probably have his case tossed, even if what he was doing is seen as crass.

“There’s no amendment in the Constitution called the humanity amendment,” said Silverglate. “It’s a free country and you have a right to be a jerk.”

But taking video outside a hospital during a pandemic and as people try to social distance — and first responders, including the police, face all-too-real health risks — is “pretty distasteful,” Silverglate added.

Still, he added the judge will “have to throw it out.” He added it’s “punishement itself” to go to court in this climate.

McCullough, records state, does not have an attorney yet. He did say he’s ready to plead his case.

“Don’t be brainwashed,” he added, “and it shouldn’t be a problem when a black man has a camera.”

The First Circuit has held that taking photos and video in public is a right that is sufficiently “clearly established” that those who violated it can’t claim qualified immunity.

PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO IN PUBLIC IS NOT A CRIME, AND POLICE WHO INTERFERE ARE THEMSELVES VIOLATING THE LAW: Boston video vigilante arrested for recording MGH ramp area during coronavirus pandemic.

More here. In fact, the First Circuit has held that police can’t claim qualified immunity when they arrest someone for recording video in a public place.


The Whitney, as it’s called, is not all bad. It has some nice Hopper, Lichtenstein, and lesser-known artists such as Henry Koerner. The long-exposure photography was excellent too. Unfortunately my pleasant memories of all these works were sullied by the exhibit on the sixth floor — An Incomplete History of Protest.

Rounding the corner to enter the exhibit, I encountered the most fascinating combination of leftism and bad taste ever assembled. There was a mosaic of anti-Vietnam signs, which displayed the hippies’ talents for zeugma (“Save Lives, Not Face”) and swearing (“F*** the Draft”). Then followed a few horrifying AIDS-related posters including genitalia and more wordplay (a picture of Reagan with the caption “He Kills Me”).

Next there was a wall full of agitprop from some organization called the Guerrilla Girls. The material in question looked like advertisements one might have taken out in Ms. magazine back when that was required reading for the fashionably radical. “Republicans do care about women’s rights to control their own bodies!” (Smaller print: “breast augmentation,” “nose jobs,” etc.) “We demand a return to traditional values on abortion!” (Smaller print: “The Catholic Church didn’t ban early abortion until 1869.”)

I truncate the epic catalogue, since by now the reader has surely gotten the point. The exhibit was an entire floor of lies, obscenity, melodrama, and a single rhetorical trick used 8,000 times. Which, to borrow a conceit from Meryl Streep, are not the arts.

This was the museum’s key weakness: It had shunned art and preferred razzmatazz. No doubt I shall be called a philistine hater of modern styles and a pseudo-cultured reactionary, but that is not really at issue here. The question is whether propaganda is art, and the answer is No.

It’s not – but what’s fascinating is how old this all is. As the late Tom Wolfe once wrote about being on a panel discussing “the style of the sixties” at Princeton university, the left’s hatred of fellow Texas-sized government-loving “Progressive” Lyndon Johnson (for largely class-related reasons) quickly and predictably overwhelmed any discussion of aesthetics:

This was the mid-1960’s. The post-World War II boom had by now pumped money into every level of the population on a scale unparalleled in any nation in history. Not only that, the folks were running wilder and freer than any people in history. For that matter, [Paul] Krassner himself, in one of the strokes of exuberance for which he was well known, was soon to publish a slight hoax: an account of how Lyndon Johnson was so overjoyed about becoming President that he had buggered a wound in the neck of John F. Kennedy on Air Force One as Kennedy’s body was being flown back from Dallas. Krassner presented this as a suppressed chapter from William Manchester’s book Death of a President. Johnson, of course, was still President when it came out. Yet the merciless gestapo dragnet missed Krassner, who cleverly hid out onstage at Princeton on Saturday nights.

Suddenly I heard myself blurting out over my microphone: “My God, what are you talking about? We’re in the middle of a … Happiness Explosion!”

That merely sounded idiotic. The kid up in the balcony did the crying baby. The kid down below did the raccoon … Krakatoa, East of Java … I disappeared in a tidal wave of rude sounds … Back to the goon squads, search-and-seize and roust-a-daddy …

Support came from a quarter I hadn’t counted on.

It was Grass, speaking in English. “For the past hour I have my eyes fixed on the doors here,” he said. “You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow.”

Grass was enjoying himself for the first time all evening. He was not simply saying, “You really don’t have so much to worry about.” He was indulging his sense of the absurd. He was saying: “You American intellectuals—you want so desperately to feel besieged and persecuted!”

And it has always been thus. As Glenn has written, “One of Trump’s major accomplishments has been to reveal the lack of civic virtue and self-control across our elite institutions.” But perhaps not yet enough to ask, “Are we the baddies?”


Related: Glenn in the San Francisco Examiner: Citizens have the right to record police.


One of the few cinematographers to have received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (in 1996), Wexler won his first Oscar for his black-and-white photography on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” director Mike Nichols’ 1966 debut starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

His acceptance speech was among the briefest in Hollywood history: “I hope we can use our art for peace and for love. Thanks.”

He won his second Oscar for “Bound for “Glory,” director Hal Ashby’s 1976 movie starring David Carradine as legendary singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie.

Wexler also received Oscar nominations for best cinematography for the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (shared with Bill Butler), “Matewan” (1987) and “Blaze” (1989).

Among Wexler’s other feature film credits as a cinematographer are “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Coming Home,” “Colors” and “The Babe.”

He also was visual consultant on George Lucas’ 1973 classic “American Graffiti.” And he received an “additional photography” credit on Terrence Malick’s 1978 film “Days of Heaven,” for which cinematographer Nestor Almendros won an Oscar.

Wexler made his feature directorial debut with “Medium Cool,” a low-budget 1969 film that he wrote and for which he served as a producer and as the director of photography.

Described by Wexler as “a wedding between features and cinema verite,” the drama about an emotionally detached TV news cameraman was partly shot in Chicago during the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention.

At one point, as the camera inches closer to a tear-gas cloud and a wall of police officers, a voice off-camera famously can be heard warning, “Look out, Haskell — it’s real!”

It wasn’t — the voice was dubbed in after the shoot to add to the “truthiness,” as a later entertainment industry leftist who blended reality and socialist fantasy would say. But taken on its own level, Medium Cool (heavily influenced by an earlier sixties movie about a cameraman, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up) is a fascinating movie. Antonioni’s  Blow-Up, despite its setting at the height of swinging mod-era London is a hypnotic, uniquely timeless film. Wexler’s Medium Cool is very much of its era; watching it is a time capsule to the ugliness of 1968 and the assault on ossified New Deal Democrats by the radical new left of the 1960s, as I wrote at Ed back in 2012:

As a result of the Chicago riots that Wexler filmed, the 1972 Democratic convention was a much different affair than Chicago in 1968, as Steve Hayward noted in the first volume of his two-part Age of Reagan series:

The Democrats had chosen Miami as their convention site in 1972 for the same reason the Republicans had chosen it again: The main convention sites were across a causeway from the mainland, which made it easier for police to prevent any large Chicago-style protest or riot from forming. It was unnecessary. In Ben Wattenberg’s memorable phrase, “There won’t be any riots in Miami because the people who rioted in Chicago are on the Platform Committee.” The Leftist writer I.F. Stone agreed: “It was joy to be at the Democratic convention this year. … I felt I had lived to see a miracle. Those who had been in the streets of Chicago were now, only four years and one convention later, in the delegates’ seats in Miami.” Just to make sure, though, Jerry Rubin, one of the leaders of the Chicago riots who was inside the convention hall in 1972, told a reporter: “If George McGovern doesn’t win the nomination, we are going to have Chicago right there on the convention floor.” Wrecking the Democratic Party may have been what many “new politics” activists had in mind all along. Rolling Stone’s Hunter S. Thompson wrote that “the only way to save the Democratic Party is to destroy it.”

Call it fundamental transformation, to coin a phrase.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Man arrested, strip-searched after photographing NYPD wins $125,000. “The settlement, first reported Monday by the Daily News, comes weeks after the NYPD reminded its officers that it was legal to peacefully record police activity. That department-wide memo followed the videotaped NYPD arrest of a man who died after being subdued by a chokehold last month.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: On Photography, Cops Need To Get A Clue.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: On Photography, Cops Need To Get A Clue.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: On Photography, Cops Need To Get A Clue.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: On Photography, Cops Need To Get A Clue.

A SMALL VICTORY IN THE WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Landmark Settlement Reached In Preakness Arrest Case.

A Baltimore City lawsuit settlement sparks major police policy and training reforms that affect everyone with a cell phone camera.

Derek Valcourt has details on the change and what it means to you.

The police department is putting it into writing so their officers fully understand. You can record them and they can’t do anything about it. First Amendment advocates call it a major victory.

When police made an arrest at Pimlico four years ago, Christopher Sharp was one of several recording. Officers didn’t like it.

“Do me a favor and turn that off. It’s illegal to record anybody’s voice or anything else,” an officer told Sharp.

But that’s not true.

Sharp says the officers took his phone and deleted videos, including family videos.

“I still am disturbed about what happened,” Sharp said.

Now, four years and an ACLU-backed lawsuit later, city police agreed to a sweeping settlement: money to Sharp and his attorneys, a formal written apology from the police commissioner and, most importantly, a new department policy spelling out expectations of city officers being recorded.

“I think it’s pretty clear people have the right to film what we do. You guys are doing it right now so it should be a norm for this organization,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.

As part of the new policy, all officers going through training will be taught that they can never tell you to stop recording as long as you’re somewhere where you have a right to be and no officer can confiscate your phone just because you have video that they don’t want you to see.

It’s a start.


A police officer who arrested a New York Times freelance photographer last August was indicted on charges he falsified records about the incident, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

Officer Michael Ackermann, 30, who works out of the 44th Precinct, wrote in his report that shooter Robert Stolarik obstructed government administration when he repeatedly fired his flash in the officer’s face while he was making an unrelated arrest, according to the DA’s office.

Witnesses told investigators there was no flash attached to Stolarik’s camera, prosecutors said, adding that investigators also analyzed the photos taken during the arrest and determined no flash was used.

Stolarik, who has worked for The Times for more than a decade, was photographing the arrest of a teenage girl at McClellan Street and Sheridan Avenue about 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 4, The Times reported on Aug. 5, 2012.

An officer reportedly ordered Stolarik to stop taking photographs of the arrest. He then identified himself as a Times photographer and continued shooting, according to the story.

A second officer then appeared, grabbed his camera and “slammed” it into his face, The Times reported.

Stolarik was then reportedly dragged to the ground and arrested.

Of course, he’d have the same rights if he were just an ordinary citizen, and not a Times employee.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: LAPD Detains A Photographer For ‘Interfering’ With A Police Investigation… From 90 Feet Away.

Send ’em a copy of this from Morgan Manning.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Illinois county to pay ACLU $600K after high court voids eavesdropping law. “In 2012, Illinois saw a rash of cases involving the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which forbade making audio or visual recordings of people without explicit consent from everyone in the recording. In practice, the law made recording on-duty police officers a felony in the state. The prosecutions of citizens that ensued prompted the ACLU to challenge the state’s Eavesdropping Act, and it was eventually ruled unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds in the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In November 2012, the US Supreme Court denied a request from a Chicago-based prosecutor to review the Seventh Circuit’s decision, letting it stand.”

You have not only a First Amendment right, but a Due Process right to record the police.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Mario Cerame, The Right To Record Police in Connecticut.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Arrest for “HIPAA Violation” Based on Citizen’s Recording of Encounter Between Police and Another Citizen. It’s a violation of due process.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: California Man Jailed Four Days for Recording Cops. But wait, it gets worse:

A California man was jailed for four days for attempting to record police officers on a public street.

Daniel J. Saulmon was charged with resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer but the video shows he was standing well out the way of a traffic stop and was only arrested when he failed to produce identification to an approaching officer.

And there is no law in California that requires citizens to produce identification. And even if there was, it would require the officer to have a reasonable suspicion that he was committing a crime.

But prosecutors have already dropped the charge against Saulmon as well as a few other minor citations relating to his bicycle such as not have proper reflectors on the pedals.

And they most likely knew who he was considering he won a $25,000 settlement from the same police department after they unlawfully arrested him on eavesdropping/wiretapping charges in 2005.

This time, it appears the Hawthorne Police Department will be dishing out much more, thanks to officer Gabriel Lira’s abuse of authority.

Of course, this means that taxpayers will be coughing up to cover Lira’s abuses, and the mis- or malfeasance of his superiors. He should be criminally charged for this arrest, and his supervisors should be sacked.

Meanwhile, check out Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights, as well as A Due Process Right To Record The Police, which I coauthored with John Steakley.

I should note, BTW, that the latter article has been selected by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for its “Getting Scholarship Into Court Project,” which is designed to inform lawyers and judges of particularly timely and useful topics. Happy to have been included! Though if my work turns out to be useful to actual lawyers and courts, I may wind up being drummed out of the Constitutional Law Scholars’ Guild. . . .

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: D.C. Police Officially Declare Photography Is Not a Crime.

Last week, two years after Washington, D.C., cops told Jerome Vorus to stop taking pictures of a traffic stop in Georgetown and to stop recording his encounter with them, the Metropolitan Police Department issued a general order against such illegal interference with citizens’ exercise of their First Amendment rights. The order (PDF), part of an agreement settling a federal lawsuit Vorus filed last year with help from the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital, “recognizes that members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record MPD members while MPD members are conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity.” That was not the position taken by the cops who detained Vorus in July 2010, four of whom incorrectly informed him that he was breaking the law by photographing and recording police without permission from the department’s public affairs office. To the contrary, Police Chief Cathy Lanier says in the new directive, “A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media, as long as the bystander has a legal right to be present where he or she is located.”

That right applies in “public settings” such as “parks, sidewalks, streets, and locations of public protests” as well as “an individual’s home or business, common areas of public and private facilities and buildings, and any other public or private facility at which the individual has a legal right to be present.” If someone is legally taking pictures or making a recording, an officer may not “order that person to cease such activity,” “demand that person’s identification,” “demand that the person state a reason why he or she is taking photographs or recording,” “detain that person,” “intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices,” or “”in any way threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an individual from recording [officers’] enforcement activities.” Furthermore, “a person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being observed…so long as that expression does not jeopardize the safety of any member, suspect or bystander…and so long as that expression does not violate the law or incite others to violate the law.”

It’s sad that it takes a lawsuit to get these basic truths recognized, but this is still progress.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Cop Took Cell Phone Used to Film Him, Lawsuit Alleges Retaliation.

The war on cameras continues in Point Marion, Pennsylvania, with a federal lawsuit filed by a man whose cell phone police confiscated. Gregory Rizer says he was at a friend’s house, filming a police officer he felt was being aggressive in his questioning of his quadriplegic friend about the whereabouts of her cousin.

The police officer, Kevin Lukart, confiscated the cellphone and Rizer was eventually charged under the state’s wiretap law, a common prosecutorial tactic against those who film police officers in states with two-party consent or other wiretapping laws. The charges were dropped by the state attorney in February (the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 1989 and again in 2005 that police officers don ‘t have an expectation of privacy under the wiretapping law) and Rizer says in his lawsuit the memory card was missing (surprise!) when his cell phone was returned to him.

So it’s theft as well as abuse of power?

UPDATE: I suppose I should take this opportunity to once again plug Morgan Manning’s excellent piece on photographers’ rights, as well as my own piece (coauthored with John Steakley) on a due-process right to record the police.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Texas Man Faces 10 Years in Prison for Recording Cops.

In light of the Glik decision, I’m not sure they can claim official immunity here. Send ’em a copy of A Due Process Right to Record the Police. And, of course, Morgan Manning’s seminal article. And based on the video, the cops in this case should be fired, and prosecuted for lying.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Justice Dept. Defends Public’s Constitutional ‘Right to Record’ Cops.

As police departments around the country are increasingly caught up in tussles with members of the public who record their activities, the U.S. Justice Department has come out with a strong statement supporting the First Amendment right of individuals to record police officers in the public discharge of their duties.

In a surprising letter (.pdf) sent on Monday to attorneys for the Baltimore Police Department, the Justice Department also strongly asserted that officers who seize and destroy such recordings without a warrant or without due process are in strict violation of the individual’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The letter was sent to the police department as it prepares for meetings to discuss a settlement over a civil lawsuit brought by a citizen who sued the department after his camera was seized by police.

I suppose this is a good time to mention A Due Process Right To Record The Police again . . . .

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: MY NEW LAW REVIEW ARTICLE, A Due Process Right To Record The Police, co-authored with John Steakley, is now available online. It’ll be out in print from the Washington University Law Review in May. Download early and often. It’s short and punchy! (Bumped).

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: MY NEW LAW REVIEW ARTICLE, A Due Process Right To Record The Police, co-authored with John Steakley, is now available online. It’ll be out in print from the Washington University Law Review in May. Download early and often. It’s short and punchy!

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Cops Would Be Liable Arresting Citizens For Recording Under Approved Conn. Bill. “The Connecticut state senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow citizens to sue police officers who arrest them for recording in public, apparently the first of its kind in the nation. . . . According to the Hartford Courant, the bill was inspired by the 2009 incident in which a priest was arrested for video recording cops inside a store shaking down immigrants, which led to a Department of Justice investigation and the arrest of four officers.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Man Wins $1.4 Million Settlement From Boston Police In Video Recording Incident.

A man who was tackled by a cop and placed in a chokehold while video recording a traffic investigation won a $1.4 million settlement this week.

Michael O’Brian said the 2009 incident left him brain-damaged and unable to return to work as a corrections officer for the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.

The Boston police officer who tackled him, David Williams, was fired in January. . . .

In November 2011, Maury Povino filed a lawsuit against the Boston Police Department after they arrested him for video recording them.

Paulino was charged with felony wiretapping along with assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in the 2009 incident.

The wiretapping charge was quickly dropped and he beat the other charges in court.

At this stage, even filing the wiretapping charges should be grounds for additional discipline. And I guess I should provide one more plug for Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights. Plus, my forthcoming piece in the Washington University law Review on a due-process-based right to record the police.

A VICTORY FOR CITIZENS IN THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Public can record Baltimore police officers on duty, new rules say. “Baltimore police have issued new rules governing how officers deal with a public increasingly armed with cameras and video records, saying that in most instances, cops cannot stop people from filming crime scenes. The general orders, issued in November and made public Friday, come days ahead of a federal court hearing in a civil suit brought by a man who says an officer confiscated his cell phone camera and deleted images of an arrest at the Preakness Stakes in 2010.”

Somebody must have read Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: ACLU Sues Los Angeles Police For Harassing Photographers For Taking Photos With “No Apparent Aesthetic Value.”

Send ’em a copy of Morgan Manning’s article.

HOW SMARTPHONES are changing digital photography. “It will take time before cameraphones are good enough to seriously challenge enthusiast compact cameras in terms of baseline functionality, but more and more, images from smartphones are appearing in online publications and even the occasional newspaper story, that would traditionally have been the preserve of professionals carrying ‘serious’ cameras. It’s not just the spontaneity of cameraphones or their increasingly impressive image quality that makes them appealing to photographers. There are a huge range of photo-related apps available that can enhance the picture-taking process. . . . We’re not all professional photojournalists working in warzones of course, but wherever you are, you might sympathise with Winter’s argument that sometimes snapping pictures with a smartphone is much more practical than it would be with a DSLR. A common complaint amongst photographers all over the world, peaceful and war-torn alike is that police and security officials, as well as ordinary people regard them and their equipment at best with suspicion, and sometimes with open aggression. In this environment, the cameraphone comes into its own. Small, discrete and connected, it can send photos and video around the world in seconds, from places where pulling out a DSLR or compact camera might just create unwarranted attention.”

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED OVER THE WEEKEND, if you were out having a life or something:

Busting Obama’s “Anti-Gay” Demagoguery.

Gunwalker Under White House Control? New documents reveal extensive White House communication with the ATF head behind the scandal.

Thoughts on amending the Constitution in my Sunday Washington Examiner column.

Ken Anderson on the legality of the Al-Awlaki killing. Plus thoughts from Walter Russell Mead, Stephen L. Carter, and Richard Miniter. And Professor Bainbridge mocks some hypocrites.

John Hinderaker: Peppered In NYC. “One can only assume that this kind of police abuse has been going on for a long time, but was not often revealed–at least, not this starkly–before the era of ubiquitous digital photography and video. But the days are gone when a policeman can wantonly assault protesters, no matter how obnoxious they may be–let alone photographers. That’s a good thing.”

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya? The Forever Recession.

What do you call people who are obsessed with Chris Christie’s weight as a disqualification for the Presidency? Why, “girthers,” of course!

The latest crime wave: Sending your child to a better school. Plus, a tree grows in Scottsdale. [I see what you did there — ed. Of course you do.]

Poll: Obama Cratering In Swing States.

DARPA’S 100-year starship.

A Sicilian explains what’s really behind the Wall Street protests.

I’m guessing not: Will Morgan Freeman answer Ali Akbar?

Plus, for all the “pass the bill” talk, Obama’s Jobs Bill Still Has No Cosponsors, in either the House or the Senate. Perhaps some enterprising journalist should call House and Senate Democrats and ask them why they’re not cosponsoring the President’s bill!

JOHN HINDERAKER: Peppered In NYC. “One can only assume that this kind of police abuse has been going on for a long time, but was not often revealed–at least, not this starkly–before the era of ubiquitous digital photography and video. But the days are gone when a policeman can wantonly assault protesters, no matter how obnoxious they may be–let alone photographers. That’s a good thing.”

COWARDS TRY TO SILENCE THE PUBLIC: Horn-honkers cited at Kelly Thomas protest. “Drivers honking their horns near a ‘Justice for Kelly Thomas’ protest in Fullerton on Saturday were cited by police officers on suspicion of illegally using that vehicle feature, the Fullerton Police Department has confirmed. Thomas was a 37-year-old homeless man fatally injured after a confrontation with six Fullerton police officers. The incident is still under investigation.” Think they’d be issuing tickets if it were a support-the-police protest? I don’t. Miserable putzes.

Nobody respects you guys when you act this way. You merely take a crap on your badge and uniform. And when budget cuts come up — and they will — a lot of people who might have stood up for you will decide not to bother. Just so you know.

UPDATE: A reader who requests anonymity says that I’m wrong:

The protestors for Kelly Thomas have been numerous, loud and disruptive. The protest starts at 9:00 AM and goes until 3:00 PM every Saturday now since August – and the horns and the bullhorns and the occasional vvuzelas – are sounded almost non-stop. This is done in an area of businesses. There are also homes only a less than two blocks away. People in vehicles, often the same vehicles circling back through, do not simply honk their horn, they lay on the horn for a quarter of a mile or more. It gets old really, really quickly.

I would suggest looking at the comments on the OCRegister site, such as this one:


1:53 PM on September 11, 2011

I’ve read several posts below and as usual most are not able to stay on topic. For many, any retaliatory, illegal action is excusable. So the same thing that many are accusing these cops of, is the same way that many accusing posters have themselves been acting. It is a form of emotional insanity.

If I lived within earshot of FPD and heard CONTINUOUS horns, I would have called the PD and complained, as many residents have done. Protest if you must, but don’t ruin everyone else’s day by being inconsiderate and obnoxious.

or this one:


12:05 PM on September 11, 2011

The investigation is still on going. In time after the facts are ascertained people will be charged accordingly. It will go to court. It’s going to take time. Actually justice rather than the mobs perception of it, is not instant.

The FPD has bent over backwards to allow the irrational to stand out there and rant. every weekend. No justice, no peace, really? Guess someone was channeling Maxine Waters. The protests continued their merry way all day. They didn’t try to silence the bullhorn. Simply a few cars operated by morons who had no sense of respect for all the businesses and homes around the police station.

Sorry they aren’t just going to hand them over to you. Lynch mobs are so passe.

Further the guy they ought to be hounding is the DA though he doesn’t deserve it either, as hes doing his job.

The tragedy of this is the polarization that is occurring. At city hall meetings anyone who stands up and suggests that the FBI, etc., be allowed to complete their investigation is shouted down and booed by the protestors. Reminds me a great deal of the “civil discourse” in the political realm we see from too many liberals and their allies.

Okay, maybe I went off half-cocked here, against the background of so much “war against photography” stuff and misbehavior/side-taking by the police in Madison, Wisconsin. Or maybe not, but I should have allowed for the possibility. My mistake.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: ACLU settles case of man cited for taping friend’s arrest.

The American Civil Liberties Union has won a $48,500 settlement of a lawsuit stemming from a Hill District man’s arrest for videotaping police, it announced today.

Elijah Matheny was arrested in April 2009 when he used his cell phone to record the arrest of a friend by University of Pittsburgh police. The police said they got Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office approval to accuse him of wiretapping. All charges against Mr. Matheny later were dropped.

The settlement ends a case that the ACLU lost in U.S. District Court and then pursued to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 3rd Circuit ruled in an unrelated case that it is legal to record officers’ work.

Of course it is.

ANOTHER LAME ASSAULT ON CITIZEN PHOTOGRAPHY: Man Faces 75 Years In Prison For Recording Police. To even consider such charges is to prove oneself unfit for public office of any kind.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Court says state law used to ban recording of police officers in public is unconstitutional.

A Boston lawyer suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record a drug arrest on the Common won a victory today when a federal appeals court said the officers could not claim “qualified immunity” because they were performing their job when they arrested him under a state law that bars audio recordings without the consent of both parties.

In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the way Glik was arrested and his phone seized under a state wiretapping law violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

Good. The really important part is that the court held that the right to photograph is “clearly established,” meaning that the officers are not entitled to official immunity. Full opinion here. And some useful background reading here. Key bit: “The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.” Indeed.


Akron police officer Donald Schismenos, an 18-year veteran, has been placed on leave with pay pending the completion of an internal investigation, city officials say. . . .

Schismenos was suspended by Mayor Don Plusquellic because he allegedly went against a superior’s orders and filed felony charges against an Akron woman who filmed him making an arrest in June 2009.

Dude, you don’t have a right to be free from public scrutiny while doing your job. I predict an unhappy outcome for officer Schismenos. Meanwhile, some remedial reading on photographers’ rights.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures “with no apparent esthetic value” is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

Send Chief McDonnell a copy of Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights.

UPDATE: Reader Steven Hupp makes the inevitable no-apparent-esthetic-value joke: “So, it’s probably been said already, but would I be detained if I took a picture of Chief Jim McDonnell?”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Police inquiry reveals violations in arrest, beating of videographer. Ya think?

Make him read a copy of Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights. In a prison cell.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Police accountability activists and their supporters celebrate court victory. “Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Banks argued that because the officers were unaware their images were transmitted to a third party and uploaded to the Web, that process took place in secrecy — a violation of a so-called wiretapping statute forbidding the secret recording or hearing of a conversation, or aiding in the transmission or hearing of that conversation.” He should be embarrassed to have his name associated with this dumb argument. Let me suggest some remedial reading.


Just note Morgan Manning’s piece on photographers’ rights. And reader Doug Levene comments:

The confusion seems to arise from the determination by various police agencies to prevent anyone from taking pictures of their little empires.

The writer doesn’t mention this in her article, but if you fly into JFK on an international flight, there are signs everywhere prohibiting photography – and the use of cell phones since they might have cameras in them – in the customs/immigration area, including the booths where the customs officers are and at the baggage carousels. To add insult to injury, while you wait for your bags, officious officials wander around telling people to turn off and put away their cell phones. So this is the first introduction that foreign visitors get to the Land of the Free. I cannot imagine what public purpose this ban serves.

Well, it might make it harder to take photos when celebrities get special treatment.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Charges Against Emily Good Dropped. “It took less than a minute for a judge to dismiss an obstructing governmental administration charge against Good, saying there was no legal basis to move forward. Good was arrested last month while videotaping a traffic stop outside her Rochester home. She was taken into custody after Good failed to go inside her home when ordered to by Rochester police officer Mario Masic.” I wish the judge had ordered Mario Masic to take some remedial courses in the first amendment while he was at it. But at least Mario Masic’s name has been identified with this lawless action, and with this: “On Monday a judge, the district attorney’s office, Mayor Richards, and Police Chief Jim Sheppard all agreed with the decision to drop the charge against Good.”

But the police union says you should just shut up and do what officers say. Good’s suing, though. I hope she wins.

Perhaps Masic can be ordered to read Morgan Manning’s article on photographers’ rights — and pass a quiz afterward. Maybe, judging by the police union’s position, that should be extended to the entire Rochester force. . . .

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D): Arrest of woman taping police sparks controversy. “The Rochester Police Department is investigating the arrest of a woman who was videotaping police during a traffic stop in front of a home on Aldine Street. . . . The incident has drawn the attention of the National Press Photographers Association Inc., based in Durham, N.C.”

Read Morgan Manning’s article.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Miami Police Shoot Man to Death, Attempt to Steal/Destroy All Video Evidence of Shooting Man to Death. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again.

And I should also plug Morgan Manning’s law review article on photographers’ rights again, too. Can we get some federal civil rights legislation, with attorney’s fees and statutory damages?

UPDATE: Though the Reason headline says Miami, following the linked stories indicates that it’s Miami Beach.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY, CONT’D: “Michael Segal said he was filming the protesters for a website,, when a police officer took his cellphone and arrested him when he inquired about how he would get it back. Segal, 25, of Coral Springs, Fla., was charged with disorderly conduct.”

And, see, when they’ve got your cellphone they’ve got your contacts and other information, too. That’s an advantage for the cheap dedicated videocams, unless you’re using the cellphone to stream the video elsewhere for safekeeping.

THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D): Miami Beach Police Ordered Videographer At Gunpoint To Hand Over Phone: But video survived even after police tried to destroy phone. Reader Matthew Hennessy writes: “Dunno if this was already linked, but I’d recommend for videographers at live events where this might happen, as it runs on smartphones and will save copies of livestreamed videos for later viewing.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: ACLU welcomes MTA’s response on photography. “The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland welcomed the decision of the Maryland Transit Administration to disavow efforts of some of its transit police to prevent photographers from taking pictures of its facilities and the agency’s vow to promulgate policies emphasizing the rights of photographers.”

Related: MTA chief repudiates photographer curbs.

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Police in Weare, NH arrest man for recording traffic stop. My message to the Weare police: What are you afraid of? Do you have something to hide? If you’re innocent, you should have nothing to fear . . . .

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Atlanta Police Department Won’t Hinder Citizens Who Videotape Cops. “Faced with complaints from a citizen watchdog group, Atlanta police will stop interfering with people who videotape officers performing their duties in public, an agreement reached with the city Thursday says. The settlement, which also calls for the city to pay $40,000 in damages, requires city council approval. The agreement resolves a complaint filed by Marlon Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta, a group that films police activity with cell phones and hand-held cameras. The group has volunteers who go out on patrols and begin videotaping police activity when they come across it.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Black teen who filmed an LAUSD campus cop hitting a student faces bizarre charges and years in prison.

On Dec. 2, Jeremy Marks, a Verdugo Hills High School special education student, was offered a new plea offer by the L.A. County District Attorney: If he pled guilty to charges of obstructing an officer, resisting arrest, criminal threats and “attempted lynching,” he’d serve only 32 months in prison.

That actually was an improvement from the previous offer made to the young, black high schooler — seven years in prison.

The D.A. then handed Angela Berry-Jacoby, Mark’s lawyer, a stack of 130 documents, and the message within those thick files was clear: She says District Attorney Steve Cooley’s prosecution team plans to try to discredit Marks, and several other Verdugo Hills High School students on the witness stand, by dragging out misbehavior incidents from their school records over the years.

Marks, 18, has been sitting in Peter Pitchess Detention Center, a tough adult jail, since May 10. Bail was set at $155,000, which his working-class parents can’t pay to free their son for Christmas. His mother is a part-time clerk at a city swimming pool, his father is a lab tech.

The first thing to understand is that Jeremy Marks touched no one during his “attempted lynching” of LAUSD campus police officer Erin Robles.

The second is that Marks’ weapon was the camera in his cell phone.

There’s an “attempted lynching,” all right, but . . . .

More here: The Curious Case of Jeremy Marks: Student Accused of Trying to Lynch a Campus Cop.

UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch emails: “Campus cops, like teachers, only have the nerve to make trouble for the kids they think won’t give them a bad time back.”

A VICTORY IN THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Charges dismissed against Md. man who taped traffic stop.

A Harford County Circuit Court judge Monday dismissed wiretapping charges against Anthony Graber, a motorcyclist who was jailed briefly after he taped a Maryland state trooper who stopped him for speeding on I-95. Graber used a camera mounted on his helmet, then posted the video on YouTube. . . . Judge Emory A. Pitt Jr. had to decide whether police performing their duties have an expectation of privacy in public space. Pitt ruled that police can have no such expectation in their public, on-the-job communications.

Pitt wrote: “Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. ‘Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes’ (“Who watches the watchmen?”).”

Indeed. This is obviously correct, and it is an utter disgrace that Harford County state’s attorney Joseph I. Cassilly brought charges anyway.

UPDATE: Or maybe not. Reader Carl Dahlman writes:

In a TV interview last summer, Cassilly said that he believes that the police have no right to privacy when stopping people on the highway. He stated that he brought the suit in order to get legal clarification of the basic issue. If he lost, he’d be happy; if he won, the State legislature would have to act.

Seems to me Cassilly got the matter settled without needing statutory remedy. Bully for him. Maybe you should not be so hard on him.

Also, kudos to the State AG who issued an opinion last summer that troopers have no right to privacy on the highway. I’m sure that influenced the judge.


ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, reader Steven Wells writes:

I read with some interest the comments of your reader Carl Dahlman regarding the dismissal of charges against the Maryland man who taped a traffic stop. Mr. Dahlman suggests that it is a good thing the prosecutor brought charges because this clarified matters without getting a statutory remedy. I disagree.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I think this type of prosecution is a disgrace, as you wrote in your initial post. Criminal charges endanger our most fundamental rights and liberties. For a prosecutor to file charges simply to clarify a vague statute is greatly troublesome. If a statute is vague, then prosecutors should not be filing charges at all. The defendant in this case had to hire an attorney (although I understand from some accounts he may have had pro bono counsel, this is still a real issue), have his name broadcast throughout national media, go through the process of obtaining bail (which is a restriction on liberty), and face the very real possibility of being a convicted felon. All of this when the prosecution admits that there was a distinct possibility that there was no basis for a charge?

There is no need for a statutory remedy in this circumstance. Prosecutors have a great deal of discretion in how they do their jobs and that discretion is all the ‘remedy’ this situation needs. I do not know Maryland’s ethical code, but under Rule 3.8 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, prosecutors should not prosecute a case if they know the charges are not supported by probable cause. It seems to me that if the prosecutor admits that the statute is vague, there is a very real argument that the prosector should know these charges are not supported by probable cause.

Just some food for thought.


WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY (CONT’D): Police continue to harass citizens who record them.

A PROSECUTOR ON THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: A reader who asks anonymity emails:

I’ve followed with interest your series on police misconduct in harassing or arresting bystanders who photograph or video officers on duty. We had a similar case this month – we dismissed the charge immediately and began an internal review of all the officer’s pending cases. His boss (the County Sheriff) brought the matter immediately to our attention and launched an IA investigation as well.

Just wanted you to know that not all prosecutors are idiots … :-)

Some additional inside baseball: nearly all of our officers and their chiefs strongly support audio and visual recording of officers while on duty. Most jurisdictions here have voice-activated microphones and video cameras mounted in their patrol cars and remote microphones clipped to their officers’ collars. Many of these devices automatically download video and audio feeds directly to remote servers to prevent tampering with the raw footage. But the cameras cannot capture everything that happens around an officer and the microphones have a limited range, so bystanders’ portable video can be a potent source of evidence documenting that an officer acted properly – which they do in the vast majority of instances.

Yes, as I’ve noted before, officers who are behaving properly should welcome this sort of thing. And it’s worth noting that when officers and prosecutors act properly, it usually doesn’t make the news.


But to arrest someone who is unmistakably on their own property, and doing nothing remotely illegal, is an abuse of power pure and simple. Even if it were true that Gibson was endangering herself by witnessing the traffic stop from the confines of her front porch, how could that possibly be construed as “resisting arrest” or “obstructing the police” without eviscerating everything that the concept of private property (not to mention plain old individual rights) stands for? Taking such a risk is not illegal. Doing it while occupying one’s homestead should be recognized as unassailably within one’s rights.

Since it appears that neither the police nor the district attorney’s office can be shamed into refraining from such power abuses, perhaps it will take a fat lawsuit for violations of Gibson’s (et al.) constitutional rights to get their attention.


MORE ON the war against photography. “If the police are doing their jobs properly, they should have nothing to worry about.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY — AND ACCOUNTABILITY — CONT’D: Growing Number of Prosecutions for Videotaping the Police. “So then the question is, ‘Are the words of a police officer spoken on duty, in uniform, in public a ‘private conversation.’ And every court that has ever considered that question has said that they are not.” Police have no expectation of privacy. They certainly don’t recognize any such in the rest of us. And prosecutors who bring such charges should lose their jobs, and maybe their law licenses. Law enforcement officials who are afraid of public accountability do not deserve their offices, or our respect or deference. Act like a thug, expect to be thought of as a thug.

THE WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY: Radley Balko has more on Maryland. “Graber is due in court next week. He faces up to five years in prison. State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly has also charged Graber with ‘Possession of an Interception Device.’ That ‘device’ would be Graber’s otherwise-perfectly-legal video camera. . . . Perhaps that officer was merely misinformed. But Maryland police spokesmen and prosecutors are giving the impression that the state’s wiretapping law is ambiguous about recording on-duty police officers. It really isn’t. They’ve just chosen to interpret it that way, logic and common sense be damned. . . . A cynic might conclude that law enforcement officials in Maryland are reacting to the McKenna embarrassment by threatening and cracking down on anyone who videotapes on-duty cops, and they’ll interpret the law in whatever way allows them to do so. At least until a court tells them otherwise.”

This is a disgrace. State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly should hear from Marylanders who care about freedom — and this seems to be me to be another argument for federal civil rights legislation guaranteeing the right to photograph police. With hefty damages, and a waiver of official immunity, for cases like Graber’s. . . .

Last week, an Illinois judge rejected Chicago artist Christopher Drew’s motion to dismiss the Class I felony charge against him. Drew is charged with violating the state’s eavesdropping statute when he recorded his encounter with a police officer last December on the streets of Chicago. A Class I felony in Illinois is punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison. It’s in the same class of crimes as sexual assault. Drew will be back in court in June to request a jury trial.

I’m currently working on a feature for Reason about man in a more rural part of the state charged with six violations of the same statute, all of them for making audio recordings of on-duty public officials. For several of the counts in that case, the police were actually on the man’s property. He started recording his conversations with police because he felt he was being unjustly harassed for violating a town ordinance he thought was unconstitutional.

Like our host, I’m of the opinion that it should always be legal to record on-duty police officers, both as a matter of policy and under the free speech, free press, and right to petition the government provisions in the First Amendment. We saw the power and potential of audio and video recording technology to expose government abuse in the Iranian protests last summer. But we also see it here in the U.S. with the thousands of  police misconduct videos uploaded to YouTube in recent years.

Typically, police who want to arrest someone for recording them while on duty use a strained interpretation of state wiretapping laws or whatever state or local law addresses obstructing or  interfering with law enforcement. These incidents are troubling enough, and I think state legislatures should consider passing laws explicitly making it legal to record on-duty law enforcement officials. Those laws should include remedies for people wrongly arrested, or who have had their cameras or cell phones illegally confiscated, damaged, or destroyed.

But in Illinois the situation is quite a bit worse. In Illinois it actually is illegal to make audio recordings of on-duty cops–or any other public official. Illinois is one of a handful of states that require all parties to consent before someone can record a conversation. But the other all-party-consent states also include a provision in their statutes stating that for there to be a violation of the law the nonconsenting party must have a reasonable expectation of privacy. On-duty police officers in public spaces have no such expectation.

Here’s where it gets even worse: Originally, the Illinois eavesdropping law did also include a similar expectation of privacy provision. But the legislature stripped that provision out in 1994, and they did so in response to an incident in which a citizen recorded his interaction with two on-duty police officers. In other words, the Illinois legislature specifically intended to make it a Class I felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to make an audio recording of an on-duty police officer without his permission.

Given the spate of recent stories about cops in Chicago caught on video misbehaving (some of whom were subsequently held accountable only because of the video), the legislature’s already-awful-when-it-passed 1994 amendment hasn’t aged well.

I suspect most state officials know this law is unconstitutional. While several people have been charged under the statute for recording public officials, I’ve so far been unable to find anyone who was actually convicted, much less had a conviction upheld. (If you know of someone who has, please email me!) Prosecutors tend to either drop the charges or offer a plea bargain before the case gets to trial. It isn’t difficult to see why someone would take a misdemeanor plea and a clean record instead of challenging a bad law and risking up to 15 years in prison and a felony record if they lose.

Before Drew the closest anyone came to challenging the law came in 2004, when documentary filmmaker Patrick Thompson was arrested for recording police interactions with patrons outside of bars and restaurants in Champaign-Urbana. He was looking to document allegations that police were treating white patrons differently than black patrons. (See the ACLU’s brief on Thompson’s behalf here). But Thompson took a plea bargain before his case went to trial.

So the law remains on the books. Which Illinois police officers remain authorized by state law to detain, arrest, and jail people who record them while on-duty, and they can continue to confiscate the recordings.

(Cross-posted at Reason‘s Hit & Run.)

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Eugene Volokh emails to say that Massachusetts also doesn’t appear to recognize an expectation of privacy exception to its all-party-consent law, and has upheld a conviction for recording on-duty police officers.

Greetings, Instanation. Since I’m new to the Instapundit guest blogging crew, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself. (And plug some my work, of course!)

I’m a senior editor for Reason magazine, where I write a weekly crime column and a couple of investigative features per year, generally on criminal justice issues. I’m also a media fellow with the Cato Institute and I publish the weblog If you read this site regularly you might recognize my name from the Cory Maye case, my reporting on SWAT teams and police militarization, or my investigations into Mississippi’s forensic system, particularly the controversial medical examiner Steven Hayne and his sidekick, fraudulent bite mark specialist Michael West.

Like our esteemed host, I also dabble in amateur photography. I’ll post a photo or so a day of some of my favorites over the years. I currently live with my pup Daisy in Alexandria, Virginia, though I’ll be moving to Nashville, Tennessee in a couple of weeks.

Welcome to my fellow guest bloggers. And a big thank you to Glenn for inviting me to help fill in for him this week.

“WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY” REACHES OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: OSU backtracks in arrest of ‘Lantern’ photographer. “Until cooler heads prevailed yesterday, Ohio State had soared to breathtaking heights over a meadow muffin, beginning by handcuffing and detaining a student news photographer who was chronicling the roundup of two escaped cows. Alex Kotran was doing his job as a photographer for The Lantern, OSU’s student-run newspaper, on April 21 when campus Police Officer William Linton ordered him to move along, then handcuffed him. The officer arrested the photographer presumably because Kotran crossed a crime-scene line. In truth, there being no crime-scene tape, any line drawn was not only invisible but arbitrary as well.”

Dopes. They deserve humiliation, and a lawsuit. Plus this: “Shame on Police Chief Paul Denton for not telling Linton, ‘Put your gun away, Barney. This is Mayberry, not Miami Vice.’ . . . Shame on a university whose inaction suggested that it cared so little about the First Amendment that it would not even rise to protect a photographer to whom it paid nothing for the gathering of its news.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Photographers and Police: A First Amendment Clash.

WAR ON PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: UK minister aims to reassure photographers. “The UK Policing and Crime Minister has reasserted that anti-terrorism should not be used to stop photographers and photojournalists. In a meeting with a Parliamentary photography group and journalists, David Hanson MP said the Sections 44 and 58A of the 2000 Terrorist Act should not be ‘used to stop ordinary people taking photos or to curtail legitimate journalistic activity’. He also said guidance to that effect has been provided to the UK police forces, advising that these powers should not be used to stop innocent members of the public, tourists and journalists.”

WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY, CONT’D: Photographer beaten, detained in London for being “cocky” to policeman who implies she is a terrorist. Tar. Feathers.

PHOTOGRAPHERS WIN Britain’s War On Photography? “The harrassment of photographers by police officers is said to have senior officers ‘exasperated, depressed and embarrassed,’ and they characterize officers’ belief that anti-terror laws prohibit photography as an ‘internal urban myth.'”

Make a few examples and it’ll stop. Othewise they don’t think you mean it.

CHECK OUT PJTV for lots of Tea Party coverage today. Current live stream is here.

Also, lots of stuff via Twitter.

UPDATE: Reader Jay Brinker sends this cellphone pic from Cincinnati:


And here’s another pic from reader J. Binik-Thomas who writes: “Vine street closed. Fountain square full. Estimate 4000-4500.” People are still arriving.


Reader Steven Pelton writes from Rochester:

This morning at 11:00, I took my toddler daughter to our local tea party behind the federal building in downtown Rochester. There had to have been at least 500 people at 11, but I had to leave early (lunch time for the toddler, you know). Maybe 500-700, but people were still coming when we were leaving.

A few Paulicans (“America is a surveillance state”, etc.), a few evangelists, but everyone was very nice, helpful (especially to a guy with a bulky stroller), and upbeat. Sorry I’m not sending any pictures. The one thing I forgot was the camera. Hopefully someone will send them on soon. It’s still going on, so hopefully any later reports have the numbers at much bigger than 500-700.

Stay tuned. And reader James Woolery writes from Napa:

I took the first two hours of my work day off as vacation so I could go to the Tea Party in downtown Napa before heading into the hospital in Vallejo to do consultations.

There were about 200 protesters at the gathering, which was quiet and good-natured. People assembled on Main Street downtown in front of the office of Mike Thompson, our local US Congressman, a Democrat. (He did not seem to be in at the time!) There were people of all ages, but the majority appeared to be boomers. Being a veteran of anti-Vietnam War protests in my youth, it was striking to witness the tone of this gathering, which was peaceful in the extreme, entirely moderate (the most raucous expression of protest was a guy beating on a drum in a sort of Revolutionary War tattoo!)…

There were no counter-protesters or agents provocateurs.

I was suprised and encouraged that there were as many as 200 people in the Napa Valley who would attend a gathering like this.

Many who drove down Main Street past the protesters honked in support!

I asked a woman who took a photo of the whole group to forward it to you; I’m not certain that will happen, but I hope so.

Word will get out. Plus, pics from Harrisburg, PA via Roger Baumgartner.

And a reader who prefers anonymity writes from Louisville:

I just got back from the Louisville Tea Party – what a great time. Approximately 1,000 – 1,500 participants, tons of signs, kids, veterans, moms, etc. who braved cold temperatures to express their 1st Amendment rights in downtown Louisville. The speakers were impassioned, educated on the issues, and explicitly non-partisan (“This is NOT a Democrat or Republican thing! This is an American thing!”). Three local news vans on site, and a visit from Newsweek’s Howard Fineman – who came away impressed, I think, by some of the speakers. Our local organizer and her husband are political newbies and did a fantastic job planning the rally – music, speakers, logistics, etc. went off without a hitch. No violence, no political confrontations, just fed-up Kentuckians and Hoosiers venting a little bit.

Yeah, it’s freezing here, too. Where’s my #@#$ global warming when I need it?

Reader Thomas Kubilius reports from Pittsburgh:

I just got back from the Pittsburgh Tea Party Protest in Market Square in Pittsburgh.

I saw 2,000-3,000 of the most well behaved protestors you could imagine. Except for the signs, you’d think it was a charity event. I saw one police officer, and he was just making sure that traffic moved through the square in an orderly fashion. They had Tea Party staff walking the crowd to keep things orderly, but all I saw was a polite, attentive crowd.

A couple of young girls from a hair dresser’s school nearby stopped to heckle for all of 2 minutes. After some shouting back and forth, they moved on. Money says that’s the part that makes the news, as that was the only time I saw anything that looked like a TV camera.

More when I have time. But here’s a pic from Austin, TX courtesy of reader Chris Stacy, who reports: “This is the earlier of two tea parties scheduled in Austin today. I’d put the crowd in excess of 1000.”



“Here’s a guy who takes me out of the car and arrests me in front of my kids. For what? To take a picture of a police officer?” said Scott Conover.

A Johnson County sheriff’s deputy arrested Scott Conover for unlawful photography.

“He says you took a picture of me. It’s illegal to take a picture of a law enforcement officer,” said Conover.

The News Sentinel’s Michael Silence comments:

“Unlawful photography” in a public place? I don’t think so. Memo to cop: Get a good civil attorney. Memo to the town of Mountain City: Are your liability premiums paid up?

This is disgraceful, but it seems to be increasingly common. Examples need to be made.

BRITAIN, BIRTHPLACE OF FREEDOM: Home Secretary green lights restrictions on photography.

The letter dated 26 June, which BJP has seen a copy of, is in response to correspondence sent by the Union secretary general, Jeremy Dear, who expressed concern at police surveillance of journalists, in particular photographers.

‘First of all, may I take this opportunity to state that the Government greatly values the importance of the freedom of the press, and as such there is no legal restriction on photography in public places,’ Smith writes. ‘Also, as you will be aware, there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place.’

However, the Home Secretary adds that local restrictions might be enforced. ‘Decisions may be made locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the officers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.

They can photograph you, but they get to decide when you can take photographs.

DIGITAL CAMERA CARNIVAL, PART THREE: I wasn’t going to do a new installment of this, but people keep sending me stuff! Follow the links for Part One and Part Two if you happened to miss those earlier installments.

Reader Roger Baumgarten emails:

I’m a thrilled owner of the Canon Digital Rebel XT. Have produced amazing pix with this body coupled with the Canon 70-200 f/4L, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, and my new Canon 85 f/1.8. Here’s a sample gallery, shot hand-held, no flash, ISO 1600!!! The lack of noise at high ISO is astonishing.

For general browsing of my XT photos:

Yes, you get much lower noise at high ISO’s with digital SLRs than with pocket cameras, because of the larger sensor sizes and better noise-reduction circuitry.

Jonathan Gewirtz emails:

Once you get that neat new digital camera you will need to organize and edit the many photos that you will make. The right software makes doing this a lot easier. Photoshop is great, but for quick image adjustments, batch editing and organizing, as well as super-easy photo emailing and other features (slideshow making, print ordering), Google’s Picasa is hard to beat. It’s free, very well designed and the latest version allows you (finally!) to use your own directory hierarchy for organizing images. Because Picasa is so easy to use and doesn’t cost anything it’s worth trying even if you already have photo software that you like.

I’ve been meaning to give it a try. I use Photoshop CS for serious editing, and Photoshop Elements — or, on my laptop, the extremely elderly but still adequate Micrografx Picture Publisher — for lighter duty. I haven’t upgraded to the latest Photoshop Elements though. Maybe I should give Picasa a try. You can’t beat free.

Bill Hobbs emails with a question:

I have a Canon Digital Rebel with a 28-135mm image-stabilized zoom that I absolutely love – although I do crave the higher mega-pixel of the 30D.

My question is: My daughter, age 9, wants to start taking pictures, and I’m not wanting to hang my thousand-dollar camera around her neck, what the best point-and-shoot digital camera under $200 or even under $150?

I’d go with the Ken Rockwell-recommended Canon Powershot A530 — at $149 it hits the under-150 price point, and Rockwell loves it.

Reader Andrew K emails:

I was wondering if you are into scuba at all. If so, any recommendations on a decent digital camera and case for underwater photography (down to recreational limits of about 120 ft.)?

I’m very much into scuba, and I generally rent my cameras from Cathy Church’s underwater photo center. You can see some of the stuff they use here. The pictures — and underwater video — for my Popular Mechanics rebreather piece were taken with the housed Olympus. It worked fine.

You can buy underwater housings — mostly designed for particular cameras — from Ikelite and other companies. I’d recommend renting, though, unless you plan to do a lot of photography over an extended period.

Reader Karen Baker emails:

I have a photoblog called Photos by Seawitch.

I’m including a couple of photos. Both of these were taken with my Nikon D50. I’ve been experimenting with a number of the settings to see what works best when. At my blog, the photos are from my HP Photosmart M407 and the Nikon D50. I switched to the Nikon D50 because I wanted to be able to use telephoto and macro lenses. I don’t have a macro lens yet, but very soon. A lot of my shots are of brown pelicans, least terns, and osprey. There’s also a lot that are of the damage done to my hometown of Gulfport and other cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I created three videos with some of the pictures I’ve taken.

Link This was done at the start of the hurricane season for 2006. It has before, during, and after shots of Hurricane Katrina

Link I did this one to thank all the volunteers, military, local, state, and federal officials, the utility companies, and the police and fire departments.

Link I did this for the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and it shows the progress that has been made.

The photos are a mix from both cameras and each one is set to music. The are between 4 1/2 to just under 5 minutes long.

I hope you’ll consider watching the videos and possibly linking to my photo blog. I realize you must receive many e-mails.

I sure have gotten a lot here! That’s it for this series, though. I’m carnivalled-out!