Friday, January 08, 2010
Intrepid blogger prevented by HPD from shooting photos
by Larry Geller
A car went over the sidewalk, onto the grass and crashed into a tree at about 7:30 a.m. at the condo where I live as I was returning from the gym this morning. No one was injured, thank goodness, though the tree was damaged.
I didn’t have a camera or even my cellphone with me, so I went upstairs, got the camera, and came down thinking it wouldn’t hurt to take some pics of this. If for no other reason, I own part of that tree. And who knows, the driver might turn out to be a DUI politician or “Lost” cast member or something.
It would not even be worth blogging about except that an HPD officer came over, stood between me and the car, and said something like, “Hey, you investigating?” I said no. He said “What you doing?” I answered, “I’m taking pictures.” I told him I live here. No use. That didn’t work for him, and he prevented me from taking any more pictures. I didn’t have paper and pencil to take down his badge number, and frankly, aside from this little blog post, it’s not worth pursuing.
In fact, I should thank him, because if he had not stood between me and the car, I wouldn’t have anything to write about this minor incident. No one hurt, little damage to the car, no news except that cop obstructs photographer.
If I had press credentials, would a cop have let me take my pics? Probably. But an ordinary citizen gets chased away.
Are you in America? Every person has a right to take pictures of anything in the public eye. Did something change over the past 5 years I've been away?
Yes, this is America. In America, the police do not understand the law. Plenty of evidence of that in the news.
It is worth pursuing with a complaint to HPD Internal Affairs, the Police Commission, and the HPD PIO.
If you don't complain, HPD officers will think they have the right to stifle citizens' rights with impunity.
I find HPD officers to be among the worst trained in civil liberties matters.
Believe me, I was thinking I should do that, and looking back, I agree with you completely on the need to complain. But I didn't, anyway.
Another consideration was not wanting to get my camera confiscated etc., all the hassle that the cop could have caused me. I already had a few shots, so that was my decision.