MTA Officers Detain Man For Taking Photos at Station

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Tower 55

Its DGNO. Not Dingo!
I don't intend this to be to political but Tower 55 makes a good argument.



I agree that the police don’t get to interpret the Constitution. That duty falls to the judicial branch. Since the day the last signature was put on the Constitution it has had to be interpreted. This is a part of its strength and many believe the writers intended this to allow it flexibility to adapt to a future they couldn’t foresee. The police only enforce the law. As in the MTA case the police don't get to make laws that don't exist. The courts say photography is protected by the First Amendment. Like freedom of speech there are limits but in general it is protected.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not open for interpretation. They never have and as long as we live in a free society, they never will. There are no limits to freedom of speech. The man who wrote The Constitution and the Bill of Rights did indeed know that the government would try to overstep its bounds, which is why he was why those documents were written the way they were, so they couldnt be infringed upon. TJ even helped pen the Federalist Papers which explain why the rights were written to be absolute and not up for interpretation.

You can yell "fire" in a public room full of people, but you face the consequences of your actions. You can use a racial slur in public, but expect to have a beating placed upon you.


The right to disagree with the government (redress of grievances) is also protected by the First Amendment. The writers of the Constitution knew the government would overstep its powers and provided for the people to make grievances. Agreed Mr. Fussell shouldn’t have been told to cease his activity. There was no law or regulation in place prohibiting photography of MTA’s trains. A grievance was made and the government agreed it had overstepped its power. This is indeed in part how our government works and what makes it, even with its flaws, one of the best in the world.
The problem is the MTA is not the law, nor are their police officers. I am(Judge Dredd:D). What they did was against the law. Thats right, they committed a crime when they stepped on the 1st Amendment rights of Mr Fussell.

As this thread has evolved I searched out the Patriot Act and see if it says anything about photography or not. There is lots covering money laundering, surveillance, defining what domestic terrorism is and so forth. Searching through it for photo, photograph and photography I didn’t find anything remotely relating to limits on photographing “critical infrastructure”.

I would encourage all of us to know what our rights are.

...and thanks Tower 55 for motivating me to look at the Constitution again.
You are a wise man.

More people should take a look at The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and dont forget The Federalist Papers.

I am a firearms owner, and the clowns on the left want to take my guns away(so do the bozos on the right). The thing is, whether you like firearms or not doesnt matter, its still a freedom granted to you/me/us. If our political system is willing to take that amendment out, or limit it in anyway, whats next? Take away any amendment, which one goes away next? Hopefully everybody sees the slippery slope that we are on.

Right now Bill of Rights is having war raged upon it. The battlegrounds are the 1st Amendment, the 2nd Amendment, and the 4th Amendment. Lose one, we've lost the war.
 

Tower 55

Its DGNO. Not Dingo!
Pat and everyone, here is a link the photographer's rights document. Every rail fan and aviation fan should read this and carry a copy.:D

http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf

Another thing to remember is that certain areas like refineries, chemical plants, certain manufacturing facilities, port facilities, airports, etc,...have always been considered 'sensitive' areas. We have a paper plant in Everett that is located in the downtown area. It receives chlorine shipments in tank cars and the unloading area is visible from a major road. One day I stopped at the security gate and asked if I would be able to photograph a BNSF coal train that was stopped at an adjacent crossing. I was informed by the plant security guards that anyone taking photos was to be 'detained' and that local police and Homeland Security were to be called. Now this may have been a load of bull dookie or not. I didn't really want to find out. I had a nice conversation with the guard and left.

This story is merely an indication of the 'hidden traps' out there for folks who like to photograph trains.
Those security guards are mouth breathing morons.

If it can be photographed from public, it can be photographed. The SCOTUS's recent rulings on this were crystal clear. Sensitive areas be damned.
 

Tower 55

Its DGNO. Not Dingo!
Its actually been their opinion more than a ruling during a case, which is why a case never makes it to them. Most of the cases make it past trial, if there is reason for appeal, make it to appellate courts which use the SCOTUS's long held beliefs on the matter.

There is one case that may get there though. I dont know the names of the parties involved, but its in Illinois. Seems a man on public property filmed a pair of police officers who were acting outside of their authority. They arrested him for wiretaping. The DA is intent to prosecute, in fact he is seeking a 75 year prison sentence(grandstanding I'm sure). SCOTUS does not say only certain subjects are fair game from public, their opinion/belief/ruling is much more broad-stroked than that. So much so they dont mention subjects. If the videographer gets the slammer, it may very well effect this hobby, because if we decide police (a subject) is off limits to be filmed from public, whats next? Its a slippery slope, and its treacherous.
 

shekky

F-55 P-55
"Those security guards are mouth breathing morons."

that's why they're "security guards"...

just sayin'...
 

Pat

Photo Critiques Welcome
I have read a case of a person threatened with arrest for videoing an officer who stopped him for a traffic violation. The police routinely use video from their vehicles during traffic stops and it has been an effective tool. It seems…odd...that they wouldn’t object to an additional video. It’s not like he was exposing say an undercover anti-drug officer. It was a traffic stop in public.

Being detained is another matter, however it is perfectly legal for a LE officer to ask anyone for their ID at any time. There is nothing unconstitutional about that.
I watched a Front Line episode (I think it was) a few years on the Fourth Amendment. The courts pretty much rule that if an officer has “probable cause” to stop you, that you are required to identify yourself if requested. The interesting point I learned was that seizures are simply if the police keep you from leaving. You are not under arrest but if you tell them you want to leave and they do not let you, you have been “seized”. I would take that to be a.k.a. detained. At that point if you have said you want to leave and do not want to talk to them your statements can full under the exclusionary rules unless they Marandize you first or you have an attorney present. They went on to say that in drug cases the courts have been less stringent on this point.
 

Eastern Railfan

Ferroequineologist
I watched a Front Line episode (I think it was) a few years on the Fourth Amendment. The courts pretty much rule that if an officer has “probable cause” to stop you, that you are required to identify yourself if requested. The interesting point I learned was that seizures are simply if the police keep you from leaving. You are not under arrest but if you tell them you want to leave and they do not let you, you have been “seized”. I would take that to be a.k.a. detained. At that point if you have said you want to leave and do not want to talk to them your statements can full under the exclusionary rules unless they Marandize you first or you have an attorney present. They went on to say that in drug cases the courts have been less stringent on this point.
I definitely agree with you Pat how it becomes "detention" if you ask to leave and are not allowed. I also agree that they do need probable cause however there are lots of reasons that can be given for probably cause.

I was approached by an Amtrak SA this morning while at DC Union Station. Somebody called for them while I was taking a few pics from the platform after deboarding my train. He was very nice and simply asked for my ID. I showed him my military ID, he thanked me for my service and then said have a nice day. I did not feel that my rights were trampled there and it took all of 2 minutes to clear up.

I have read a case of a person threatened with arrest for videoing an officer who stopped him for a traffic violation. The police routinely use video from their vehicles during traffic stops and it has been an effective tool. It seems…odd...that they wouldn’t object to an additional video. It’s not like he was exposing say an undercover anti-drug officer. It was a traffic stop in public.
I know it has happened in several states, but I think that Massachusetts has prosecuted more cases than any other in regards to this sort of thing. I think the law is being stretched in these cases.
 

Tower 55

Its DGNO. Not Dingo!
Being detained is another matter, however it is perfectly legal for a LE officer to ask anyone for their ID at any time. There is nothing unconstitutional about that.
Actually, there is. ID is not something that can be demanded for just any reason. There is something called "reasonable suspicion", then there is "probable cause". Photographing, were legal, doesnt meet either one. Therefore it is absolutely unconstitutional to request identification for minding your own business.

To make a point, we had some trouble down here with Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police(DART Transit Police) demanding identification of railfans at Dallas Union Station(public property), and on sidewalks around DUS. I went to do some DGNO photography during all this hubbub, and my ID was demanded(papers please?). I denied the request. I asked what the reasonable suspicion was, and I asked what probable cause they had. They looked at each other, not sure what to do. I told them to call their supervisor which, to their credit, they did. Supervisor arrived. I asked them if I was on public property, to which they said yes. I asked if photography was legal, to which they agreed it was. Then I asked what was "suspicious" and what was their probable cause. They raised their eyebrows, the supervisor smiled, they walked away, and waved as they got in their cruisers.

I emailed DART's PR department, and gave them kudos. Morgan Lyons, DART PR Director, passed the rules down to DART PD during the rise up, and those officers took note.

I am known for being a bit of a smartass, but I wasnt acting like that towards these officers.
 




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