When most people think of photo walks, they probably imagine a small group of photographers casually strolling down the sidewalk snapping photos of random things along the way. Then there’s FlaskMob, a group of photographers, models, and artists who do photo walks a little bit differently. For example, the photo walk the group organized near downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, was complete with their own mobile DJ, fireworks, steel wool spinners, smoke bombs, and booze. The organizers were expecting approximately 300 participants to show up; however, as word spread via social media, that number quickly grew to about 2000.
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.
As the protest happening in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of an unarmed teenager who was shot by a police officer, enters it’s 5th day, it appears the police are vigilantly enforcing a complete media blackout. Social media is buzzing with reports of journalists, photographers, and videographers being assaulted, shot at with rubber bullets, and arrested by the St. Louis County Police. A video from local NBC affiliate, KSDK, shows a news crew from Al Jazeera America TV being tear gassed as they attempted to report on the protest. As soon the journalists cleared out, this happened:
In case it isn’t very obvious, a SWAT team in full riot gear swooped in and began breaking down the journalists camera equipment and lighting setup. Sadly, this isn’t the only case of photographers and journalists having their rights violated while reporting on the event.
It’s common these days to find videos of people filming confrontations with policemen. With a smartphone in everyone’s hands, it’s easier than ever to be able to capture incriminating evidence. Given how many controversies have come up in recent years regarding abusive police action caught on video, officers have to be careful with how they deal with citizens recording them.
This video captures resident Steve Wronko attempting to investigate the Helmetta Animal Shelter, when he’s approached by New Jersey police officer Richard Recine. Normally, the entire thing would have been another situation of a man trying to be smart with a police officer who’s trying to do his job (the internet just loves a guy who steps up to authority), and then act threatened when they pat his back towards the exit.
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.
With cameras becoming more accessible and easier to use, we have more of an incentive to film anything interesting that’s happening within our view. It’s not just CCTV or a security camera that’s catching crimes happening on the street, and it’s not just LiveLeak that’s giving us videos of people acting out of line. And for every good cop out there, there’s a cop that feels threatened by the fact that his actions are more likely to be put on record.
Right now, it’s more important than ever that people know their rights when photographing anything; NPPA Attorney (National Press Photographer’s Association) Mickey H. Osterreicher recently sat down with PDN Pulse last thursday to give a few tips on the matter.