Security Guard and Photographer Skirmish ends with Memory card Deleted and Damaged Gear

Over the time we’ve seen a lot of Police activity we tag under photography is not a crime, but I think that this is the first time we are covering anti photography actions not by a cop, but by a security guard.

Videographer Benn Jordan was doing a timelapse shoot next to an Acme Refining facility was faced with a security guard who was upset about the filming taking place. Benn found himself in quite a Kafkaic situation when he agreed to leave, but had his memory card taken and photos erased.

According to Benn:

Security guards who refused to identify themselves, […] claimed the sidewalk area between their property and the street was private property, damaged my gear, and formatted my memory cards containing the previous 2 days of work without my permission. I wish I could get to my phone sooner when they initially approached me, as I definitely have grounds for assault.

They then lied to the police and claimed I was on the other side of their fence, refusing to leave, and tried to have me arrested for criminal trespassing. Upon showing the police the 20+ minutes of video I have of the incident, they told me I would have to take it up with civil court.

While it is not clear what happened before and after the recorded video, it is not easy to watch. Benn is repeatedly asking to leave and he can not do so while the guard has his memory card.  We have asked Acme Refining to share their side of the story, and will update as soon as it comes in.

Since Benn, the police and the Acme Refining security guard all have different versions of the story, it would be quite interesting to unravel this Rashomon.

Benn’s post over at reddit called This crap is why I can’t make a timelapse landscape of Chicago gathered over 150 comments and is quite interesting to read. While the internet is not a lawyer, there seems to be a consensuses that the guard did not have legal grounds to confiscate the memory card and delete the photos.

[This crap is why I can’t make a timelapse landscape of Chicago via reddit]

  • Dany Buteau

    Tellement inacceptable comme situation!

  • Morgan Glassco

    I would come back the next day after a quick brush up on state law for self defense. I would make sure I set up on public property where they could clearly see me. I would bring some form of non lethal force (pepper spray, taser) and just sit and wait.

    • Morgan Glassco

      I would have also called the cops and reported being detained against my will and having private property stolen

  • Dan K

    When real-time cloud storage arrives, angry people wont be able to delete files from cameras.

  • Lance King

    I’m not a violent person but if some rent-a-cop deleted my photos and broke my gear I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t end well.

  • The_Michael

    First glance shows, unlawful detainment, destruction of property, strong arm theft, lying to the police. Of course of they had ANY weapons on them at all, even if not visible, armed robbery. If he has any contracts in place to use this footage in the music video, add the tort of third party interference with a contract.

  • dwest

    one look at the business end of a .45 and i bet he’d give the memory card back in a hurry.

  • TomND

    The deleted photos are easily recoverable if the storage card has not been reused.

    • MongoLikesCandy

      It says reformatted not erased. Probably can’t get that back.

      • TomND

        Reformatting only erases the file index table on flash devices to preserve the limited write cycle life of the memory. The data is still there unless it has been overwritten.

  • Ibonibo

    A sidewalk is public.
    Only a judge can confiscate goods that pose no harm to society (if threat, cops can confiscate).

    Timpelapse = lots of pics.
    Sueing for damages by photo. Lots of pics ….
    Company needs to pay, is angry on security gard, whi lose his job.

  • Nikhil

    Is it possible to get some kind of Permit? I am always confused about the permits shooting anywhere in NYC. I have seen many professional engagement shoots going on in Central Park or Brooklyn Bridge Park without getting asked for a permit, but I have got asked everytime. May be I am just unlucky. Some sites say that we don’t need permit to shoot in parks and sidewalks; some have an application which has to be filled with dates and times for the shoot and sent to the GOV office which takes forever to reply. As far as this shoot goes, I don’t think Ben Jordan was wrong to shoot there, but a single photographer cannot argue with two security guards who are threatening him/her.

  • RZ

    wow. what an a$$hat. conceal carry is now legal in illinois. As soon as he wouldve touched my equipment i wouldve raised my weapon and defended myself.