Tuesday, February 05, 2008

MTA Harasses Photographer at Atlantic Yards

A video artist and teacher taking photos and video of the Atlantic Yards development site was stopped and questioned by an MTA police offer this Sunday. The incident is throughly reported in Atlantic Yards Report. Here's a bit of what Norman Oder writes about the disturbing little story:
Though a good number of photographers regularly shoot around the Atlantic Yards footprint and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Vanderbilt Yard, a video artist/teacher on the first week of her visit to Brooklyn found herself on the wrong side of an MTA police officer Sunday. He attempted to confiscate her camera, questioned whether she was part of an anti-AY organization, and more than once reminded her that the project was proceeding, according to her account...I called the MTA public affairs office early yesterday afternoon and outlined the incident, as recounted by McInnis, named the officer, asked if there was an incident report, and asked for the MTA policy. I didn't get a response by the end of day, but when one is forthcoming, I’ll add it.

The MTA police have a track record of harassing photographers. A 3/17/06 article on the web site of the National Press Photographers Association reported that the MTA had pledged to the New York Civil Liberties Union that it will remind its staff and law enforcement officers that there is no photography ban on MTA property.
There are full details of the incident at Atlantic Yards Report. The photographer says she will file a complaint. We wonder how many other photographers have had incidents where MTA officers or others tried to stop them from taking photos or in other ways harassed them or tried to get them away from the property.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've been told on several occasions that i could not photograph buildings or demolition sites, never by the MTA nor police (which surprises me), but by people i assume were either security or demolition foremen.

i've always told them that i have every right to photograph from a public sidewalk, and i've never gotten the hassle that Katherin has.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is scary stuff.. and the second incident I am reading about in less than a month! There was another incidet recently reported at the Found in Brooklyn blog .... re: a Scarano building if I am not mistaken

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll repeat here what I posted at AYR...

"Finally, she said, he asked if she was part of any organization "opposing these Yards." She said no. He said "You know the project is probably going to go through."

That was a very, very stupid thing for the MTA cop to say, because worse than his illegal attempt to confiscate the camera, this makes it clear that his intent was arbitrary in hindering the exercise of her legal rights.

His intent did not seem to be block photographers, but to block opponents of the project.

That's a very big legal no-no.

4:36 PM  
Blogger dalton said...

Yes, photographs are allowed of just about anything from a public sidewalk. Many property and store owners don't know this (even some police don't know this) and will give you trouble. It's a good idea to be as polite as possible, but emphasize your rights and carry a copy of the Photographer's Rights (a free downloadable PDF) and the phone number of the local precinct. Kindly offer to call the police if anyone hassles you.

And she was right, they never, ever, ever have the right to confiscate your camera or film. You can successfully sue anyone who does so, including the police.

4:46 PM  
Blogger The Phantom said...

I support AY, but this action is completely unjustified. The MTA had better watch it.

10:53 PM  
Anonymous brokeland said...

I oppose AY and of course this action is unjustifiable. But I can see, as an AY opponent, that it is also illegal.

6:06 AM  
Blogger Frank Jump said...

Ah, the whittling away of our documentary freedoms. As if things will get any better with Clinton or Obama. Let's not forget "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Ban on HIV/AIDS Immigration, were Clinton Administration blunders. Next they will take away the Internet.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous StationStops said...

I got harassed by an MTA conductor on St Patricks Day for taking pictures in Grand Central!

4:48 PM  

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