22 February 2010

British Authorities Continue to Harass Photographers (even more)

The folks at The Guardian have published two video interviews with amateur photographers who have been harassed by police for taking pictures on the streets.* In both instances the photographers video-taped their initial interactions with the authorities and The Guardian includes that footage.

This is a depressing pattern - in both the UK and the US - about which I have posted numerous times. Not only is the British law overly broad and poorly specified, but it seems pretty clear that the 'cop on the beat' is in most cases clueless about what the law does and does not allow. As a result, citizens are being questioned, detained and arrested for no reason whatsoever. In terms of their absurdity the interactions between the photographers and the police remind me of nothing so much as old Monty-Python sketches. Unfortunately the absurdity wears thin in the face of the more or less systematic violation of civil rights.

You can find the video interviews, the first with Simona Bonomo here and the second with Bob Patefield here. I admire their fortitude in the face of the police. But I also wonder whether in the U.S. their refusals might not have encountered what one might call a more vigorous response on the part of police.
* Thanks Chris!

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Blogger Lillie Langtry said...

We Brits still have to count ourselves lucky that the majority of police officers do not carry guns, right?

22 February, 2010 15:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't do street photography because it 1. makes me nervous that something similar might happen, and 2. I hate when strangers snap my picture and keep walking. I have no idea what they're doing with those pictures and it freaks me out. Had it happen once and it completely turned me off to the idea of ever doing street photography for myself.

That being said, I think it's sad for photographers to be harassed because they're trying to take a picture. On the other end of things it would be even more sad if the person taking the picture really was planning an attack and the authorities had a chance to stop him or her prior, but didn't because they thought he/she was just a photographer. This is a tough balance for any law officials to have I guess. There doesn't seem to be an easy answer given the fact that crazy people still go around blowing things up and hurting other people all for the sake of making a name for themselves or their cause.

25 February, 2010 12:27  

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