USA Today: On photography, cops need to get a clue - Photography is NOT A CRIME!Submitted by Diamond Dog on Mon, 07/21/2014 - 14:29
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds | USA Today
Last week, Buzzfeed reporter Benny Johnson went to work on a list of the seven ugliest federal buildings in Washington, D.C. But what he found was even uglier than the buildings: ignorant, heavy-handed law enforcement officers who told him — wrongly — that he couldn't photograph the ugly architecture.
Johnson repeatedly confirmed with the media-relations folks at these agencies that it was OK for him to photograph the buildings — as it is for any member of the public — but word hadn't filtered down to the guys with guns.
Johnson writes: "After I took this photo of a public walkway in front of the (Department of Energy) building, four armed guards surrounded me and my bike. I was ordered off my bicycle and told to hand over my camera. 'Where is your identification? Why are you taking photos of our building?' an officer asked me. I explained my role as a reporter and asked what rules I had broken. 'You are suspicious, and we are in a post-9/11 world,' he said. The four officers surrounded me right here, directly in front of the building entrance."
Here's the thing: They had no authority to do this.
It's legal in America to take pictures of public buildings — and pretty much everything and everyone else in public. That's something that law enforcement agencies routinely take advantage of in arguing that people have no "reasonable expectation of privacy" when they're out and about and being surveilled by the government.