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Date: 05/31/11 23:48
(Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: GenePoon

MTA warned: Let photographers shoot
ACLU tells agency police can't forbid taking pictures
Baltimore Sun
by Michael Dresser
May 31, 2011

> Christopher Fussell likes to take pictures of trains and buses. The 29-year-old Oregonian has shot photos and video of transit systems
> all over the United States.
>
> It wasn't until he came to Baltimore, he said Tuesday, that he was detained for committing photography.
>
> The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland put the Maryland Transit Administration on notice Tuesday that it intends to file suit
> over the conduct of transit police in ordering Fussell and another photographer to stop taking pictures. The group warned that unless
> the agency meets a series of conditions by Sept. 1, it will take the MTA to court — where it expects to win.
>
> "Photography is expressive activity that is protected by the First Amendment," said ACLU staff attorney David Rocah. "If you are legally
> present, you have a right to take photographs."
>
> Rocah said the ACLU raised the right to take photographs in 2006 after an officer ordered one of its staff members to stop filming at
> a station. He said the ACLU chose then to try to resolve the issue amicably — a decision the attorney now calls an error the group will
> not repeat.
>
> "Our time for friendly discussion is long since past," Rocha said. "We tried that for five years to apparently zero effect."
>
> The MTA declined to comment on the ACLU warning, saying Tuesday that it had just received the letter...

Full story:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/commuting/bs-md-mta-aclu-20110531,0,3380358.story



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/11 00:34 by GenePoon.



Date: 06/01/11 01:06
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: poffcapt

This is what happens when the people charged with enforcing the law aren't given proper training. If they had the proper training, they would know what types of filming or photography to watch for, and what to ignore. Where I worked in public transportation, I got yearly training on security after 9/11 until I retired.

Unfortunately, it seems that most public transportation agencies either don't have the money, or are unwilling to put a decent training program into action. They seem to rely on lots of generalized blanket statements about security, and then officers such as the ones these 2 photographers encountered make up their own playbook from the generalized statements someone in management gave to them.

I wonder what the officers would do if someone they were questioning 'laid' a TWIC (Transportation Workers Indentification Card) card on them when asked for ID. Anyone with a TWIC has been pretty well vetted by the federal government. Again, we go back to training. I bet a lot of them wouldn't know what a TWIC card was.

In this instance, I hope the ACLU pervails.

Barry Stone
Edmonds WA



Date: 06/01/11 03:33
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: BMH

You wouldnt believe how many times ive been questioned about my TSA ISSUED TWIC card by TSA themselves.

Posted from Android



Date: 06/01/11 05:12
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: joemvcnj

I think it has more to do with overstaffed, feather-bedding, incompetent security people making themselves look vigilant. I place them in the same boat at the Border Patrol idiots on the Lake Shore Ltd. What the MD-MTA needs is an expensive judgement that will impact their operating budget and cause PDX furloughs. When it hits their pocketbook and livelihood, then they will take notice.



Date: 06/01/11 05:23
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: robj

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think it has more to do with overstaffed,
> feather-bedding, incompetent security people
> making themselves look vigilant. I place them in
> the same boat at the Border Patrol idiots on the
> Lake Shore Ltd. What the MD-MTA needs is an
> expensive judgement that will impact their
> operating budget and cause PDX furloughs. When it
> hits their pocketbook and livelihood, then they
> will take notice.

Absolutely. Even being in private business I found the worst performance when there were too many people and little work. This is all about filling out reports and looking like doing something. You have to show you are doing something. An empty shift is not good.

The whole photo thing is so stupid. Anyone can take a very good cell phone photo without being detected and send it to who know where in minutes.

Bob Jordan



Date: 06/01/11 05:35
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: joemvcnj

Taking pictures is so easy, it is funny. I saw on a TV commercial last night a big pill you can swallow that allows doctors to see inside of you. One half of it is clear and puts out a beacon every second or so.

So the poor schmuck who has a big, clunky camera is the one who will get in trouble by these transit cops.



Date: 06/01/11 05:58
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: NormSchultze

Remember, Baltimore calls itself "Charm City" ! ROFLMAO



Date: 06/01/11 06:16
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: Lackawanna484

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think it has more to do with overstaffed,
> feather-bedding, incompetent security people
> making themselves look vigilant. I place them in
> the same boat at the Border Patrol idiots on the
> Lake Shore Ltd. What the MD-MTA needs is an
> expensive judgement that will impact their
> operating budget and cause PDX furloughs. When it
> hits their pocketbook and livelihood, then they
> will take notice.

More likely, the PD will seek and receive a larger appropriation to cover their work. And, car cleaners, station maintainers, track guys, etc will be laid off.

Many police agencies now derive a significant portion of their budgets from (federal) Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency. In a way, that makes them less responsive to local and often elected commissioners, mayors, etc.



Date: 06/01/11 06:25
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: Cumbresfan

Good article, Gene. Suggest everyone read the whole piece. And I hope Chris will post a comment on here when he sees this.



Date: 06/01/11 08:37
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: CFG

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/traffic/2011/06/mta_chief_repudiates_photograp.html

The head of MTA didn't take long to go public with a repudiation of his police force's action. Still it remains to be seen whether or not they can come to an accommodation with the ACLU and the photographers. I don't think we've heard the end of this, just yet. The MTA has never been quick to change their thinking.

It's interesting that the police had time to hassle the photographers, during the same period when a community along the light rail line is pushing to close their station due to lack of what they interpret as proper policing of the proof-of-fare issue.



Date: 06/01/11 08:47
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: BaltoJoey

The Baltimore Sun Newspaper is really running with this story. They now have the ACLU's letter to the head of the MTA Police posted as well as links to the two videos that Mr. Fussell posted on YouTube. The tone of that letter is not very pleasant and in legalese terms calls the MTA Administration and the responding officers a bunch of ignorant bozos!

I guarantee you that right now those MTA police officers wish that they had never even set eyes on that guy. I can see it now. They'll have those officers riding a beat way out in Perryville and Brunswick! LOL

BaltoJoey



Date: 06/01/11 09:13
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: GenePoon

Do not be fooled by the MTA Administrator's groveling.

He is only hoping to defuse the issue and get the ACLU to NOT file legal action. He knows that in court, the MTA
will lose and his agency will have to officially develop an acceptable and legal policy that must pass muster with
the court and with others outside the MTA, thus depriving him and the MTA of unbridled authority.

I say to the ACLU: KEEP THE HEAT ON.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/11 09:16 by GenePoon.



Date: 06/01/11 09:17
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: joemvcnj

< during the same period when a community along the light rail line is pushing to close their station due to lack of what they interpret as proper policing of the proof-of-fare issue >

Ah, ha ! Proves my theory: Inadequate policing at a POP station, so harass a poor schmuck to show they are present and vigilant.
Do they think the public is so stupid and shallow to not see that ?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/11 09:18 by joemvcnj.



Date: 06/01/11 09:49
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: BaltoJoey

GenePoon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Do not be fooled by the MTA Administrator's
> groveling.
>
> He is only hoping to defuse the issue and get the
> ACLU to NOT file legal action. He knows that in
> court, the MTA
> will lose and his agency will have to officially
> develop an acceptable and legal policy that must
> pass muster with
> the court and with others outside the MTA, thus
> depriving him and the MTA of unbridled authority.
>
> I say to the ACLU: KEEP THE HEAT ON.

Gene, the ACLU got burned once by the MTA and now look foolish. They will not get burned again and will pursue this until the MTA and MDOT clean up their acts. According to the last article, it looks like those officers may be getting an unpaid vacation.

BaltoJoey

PS: I hope that female employee of the MTA who made the original complaint gets a little vacation time as well!



Date: 06/01/11 09:56
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: GenePoon

BaltoJoey Wrote:

> Gene, the ACLU got burned once by the MTA and now look foolish. They will not get burned again and
> will pursue this until the MTA and MDOT clean up their acts. According to the last article, it
> looks like those officers may be getting an unpaid vacation.
>
> BaltoJoey
>
> PS: I hope that female employee of the MTA who made the original complaint gets a little vacation time as well!

===================================================================

The tone of the ACLU's letter, and the fact that the issue is being taken public, bodes well for their sticking to it this time until the job
is done, and done RIGHT.

Meanwhile, punishing the officers and the original complaining employee would be holding them up as public scapegoats when it is a
rotten, power-hungry Authority and upper management that need an attitude adjustment. The ACLU and the public must not let such
actions, if they do occur, pass for the MTA "taking action."



Date: 06/01/11 10:04
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: Lackawanna484

GenePoon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> BaltoJoey Wrote:
>
> > Gene, the ACLU got burned once by the MTA and
> now look foolish. They will not get burned again
> and
> > will pursue this until the MTA and MDOT clean up
> their acts. According to the last article, it
> > looks like those officers may be getting an
> unpaid vacation.
> >
> > BaltoJoey
> >
> > PS: I hope that female employee of the MTA who
> made the original complaint gets a little vacation
> time as well!
>
> ==================================================
> =================
>
> The tone of the ACLU's letter, and the fact that
> the issue is being taken public, bodes well for
> their sticking to it this time until the job
> is done, and done RIGHT.
>
> Meanwhile, punishing the officers and the original
> complaining employee would be holding them up as
> public scapegoats when it is a
> rotten, power-hungry Authority and upper
> management that need an attitude adjustment. The
> ACLU and the public must not let such
> actions, if they do occur, pass for the MTA
> "taking action."


Maybe, maybe not.

The MTA owes it to its employees to adequately and accurately instruct them in the laws they've sworn to uphold. If the cops believed they were doing the right thing based on the training they received, then their superiors ought to be the folks with an unpaid vacation.

If, and it's a big IF, the cops were irritated by the photographer knowing the law better than they do, and showing them where they were wrong - that's a whole different matter. Cops do not like to be shown up when they're wrong.



Date: 06/01/11 10:14
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: anthracite

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Cops do not like to be shown up when they're wrong.

They can dish it out but they can't take it, eh? The thought of some (*too* many, methinks) law-enforcement officers having such a crybaby prima-donna attitude turns my stomach.



Date: 06/01/11 12:06
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: bandob

As a (take your pick...)

Railroad enthusiast photographer...

Veteran (US Navy)...

State of MD employee...

Regular voter and taxpayer.....

I have NEVER been so proud of my membership in the ACLU as I am after reading all this!

B&OB



Date: 06/01/11 12:28
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: PERichardson

It never ceases to amaze that people think banning overt photography will curb future nasty events. Way back in 1987 I was on a British railway tour of Pakistan and at some ancient steam shed we weren't allowed to take photos of a valve gear diagram (for a 1900-era inside coupled 0-6-0) painted on the wall of a shop building, "....for security reasons". One of our group was a high ranking RAF officer who pointed out their satellites could photograhy the entire place every 24 hours. Our guide shook his head and walked off, while many of us took the prohibited photo.....horrors.

Today, here in Chile we regularly check Google Earth so see what odd units might be out at the FCAB workshops up north.



Date: 06/01/11 12:31
Re: (Maryland) MTA Warned: Let Photogs Shoot
Author: poffcapt

Let me add another thought to this thread.

It is my perception that a large percentage of these "Rail photographer challenged and abused by commuter security or local cops" reports have come out of the NEC. We are talking about several years; at least since 9/11. A number of these cases have been publicized, making one wonder how many more lay under the waterline of the iceberg.

With all of this publicity, one would think that management and employees of other transit agencies would take notice, see a trend, wonder about his own agency, and then seek guidance on the issue. Or, is it a general rule of thumb that most Americans are now basically interested in going to the job, getting through the day with as little hassle as possible, getting paid and going home?

Barry



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