Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Has war on street photographers jumped the pond?

Here's an alarmist lead to a Memphis, TN newspaper story:

"A man walking through Tom Lee Park pauses to snap a photo of the iconic Hernando DeSoto Bridge. Another man shoots pictures of numerous downtown buildings.

"Many would assume the men are tourists taking in the city's sights, but law enforcement officials say they could be terrorists staking out possible targets."

The story, Tourist or Terrorist? appeared recently in the Memphis Flyer, and goes on to describe how Operation Sudden Impact, an alliance of 54 law enforcement agencies, is targeting photographers as potential Al Queda operatives.

"One of the things discussed in the al-Qaeda manual is conducting surveillance of your target," one official is quoted as saying.

While there have been no reports from Memphis of photographers being hassled or detained by police, after reading this article it only seems like a matter of time.

US street photographers, beware...and keep a copy of The Photographer's Right with you just in case you need to prove that what you are doing is protected by the first amendment of the U.S. constitution.

If there's anthing reassuring about this news item, its the reader comments, such as "I'm an amateur photographer and plan my vacations around interesting areas to photograph. Thanks for helping me cross Memphis off my list." and "Whoever is suggesting this "plan" is the terrorist" and "None of this has anything to do with preventing terrorism...What this has to do with is getting citizens used to obeying arbitrary commands."

Enough paranoia!

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