The number of coronavirus-related deaths in New York City is alarming. Because of this, there have reportedly been more mass burials on Hart Island than ever. Photographer George Steinmetz was recently documenting a burial ditch on Hart Island with his drone, which put him in legal trouble. His drone was confiscated by the police and he was issued a Desk Appearance Ticket.
Events such as Ferguson led to increased usage of body cameras in police departments across the U.S., but as the cameras’ popularity soars so do the questions about who owns the footage and how much of it should be made available to the public.
As Arstechnica reports, one question hasn’t been discussed as often – how much should it cost to obtain the footage from the wearable cameras under state open-access laws – and as a Time Warner Cable News operation found out, it’s currently ridiculously expensive.
As one might expected, the matter is now going to court.
Recently it seems like every other day there’s a story in the headlines about police officers abusing their power and violating civil rights.
Shawn Randal Thomas, an event photographer from New York City, is the kind of person who fights for his rights and firmly believes in civilian oversight.
As such his YouTube channel hosts a variety of videos recording law enforcement officers during one activity or another, pointing fingers at those he thinks are bad apples.
This probably won’t come to you as a surprise, but spending so much time around cops and always against them won’t get you on their good list. In fact, Thomas has been arrested six times (as of May 2014); though no matter the charge he was never found guilty.
The video below, which has been viewed 380,000 times in just 4 days, shows Thomas putting his knowledge of the law, experience and what many think is a too-large serving of disrespect, to brush off a couple of NYPD officers who ask what he’s carrying in his bag.
While he succeeded to avoid answering the cops’ question and was left alone, one must wonder if his provocative behavior doesn’t attract police and give photographers a bad name.
A few days ago, NYPD Chief Phillip Banks issued a memo reminding police officers that people have the right to fill them while they’re on duty, and that they can’t interfere and try to stop it from happening. It took only three days since then, unfortunately, for that memo to be forgotten.
Yesterday, an previously New York Mayor candidate named Randy Credico was arrested and jailed for recording the aggressive arrest of a man by officers in street clothes. While on his way to a campaign interview, Credico saw the two officers taking control of the man at the Van Cortland Park subway station, located in the Bronx.
In a memo handed down to New York City Police precincts on Wednesday, the Chief of Department, Philip Banks, reminded his staff that photographers do indeed have the right to photograph on duty police officers. This comes two long years after the Washington DC police force issued a strikingly similar notice to its officers. It also follows the tragic death of a Staten Island man that was killed after being placed in a chokehold by a member of the NYPD. The memo instructs police officers to not interfere or interrupt photographers unless the are explicitly interfering with operations being performed by the officers.
“Members of the public are legally allowed to record police interactions. Intentional interference such as blocking or obstructing cameras or ordering the person to cease constitutes censorship and also violates the First Amendment.”
Yesterday we shared a story about a couple of drones flying at an NYPD helicopter and putting it at severe risk. Well guess what, A recording from LaGuardia airport Air Traffic Control tells a different story all together.
Yesterday’s story was about two individuals, Remy Castro and Wilkins Mendoza, who were flying their quadcopters over George Washington Bridge in New York while a police helicopter was patrolling the area. Yesterday, the story was about how the helicopter had to take evasive action to avoid a hit. Remy and Wilkins were arrested.
At about 12:15 midnight, Remy Castro and Wilkins Mendoza were flying their two quadcopters over George Washington Bridge in New York; at the same time, an New York Police Department chopper was present and patrolling the area – the two remote controlled quadcopters were headed straight for it. Luckily, the NYPD officers present noticed the two of them, and had to divert the chopper’s direction to avoid hitting the two of them.
Had one of the quadcopters hit the propeller of the chopper, things could have gotten ugly. There were a number of ways things could have gone wrong in this situation, and it shouldn’t be happening in the first place if we expect to be able to keep our right to freely use quadcopters in the US. If you follow this website at all, you know our stance on photography and how it relates to the law; but as supportive as we are of the right to use these devices, we can’t be surprised when regulations get put up because of things like this.
The two men that manned the quadcopters were immediately arrested after the NYPD traced the flying devices back to them. And even after they were taken in, they spewed out dialogue that was nothing short of immature and inexcusable. One of them told the Criminal Court that it was “just a toy” and that they “were just playing with it“.[Read More…]
On Wednesday, Harlem’s community suffered tremendously when a gas leak explosion brought down two apartment buildings, killing 8 people and leaving over 70 injured. The NYPD was again faced with the task of digging through rubble to find any signs of survivors in a demolished area, bringing back memories to many people of what happened back on 9/11. A bizarre incident, however, did manage to make an appearance in the midst of everything when one photographer, Brian Wilson, caught some attention for his camera’s setup; it was on a flying drone.
The flying drone, a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter, managed to take a (pretty well done, might I add) aerial shot of the debris from the explosion that morning, and the photo was posted to the photographer’s Instagram account. It wasn’t, however, until the drone caught the attention of the NYPD that things got slightly controversial. I take that back; it already started turning heads of other people before it got noticed by the police, and even the people themselves got worried.