August 8, 2010

The MetroRail Photo Protest.

South Florida photographers held a "shoot-in" photo protest at the Douglas Road MetroRail station on Sunday.  The protest was arranged by photographer Carlos Miller, who has been actively lobbying for photographer's rights.

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The protest was in response to several incidents of 50 State Security employees hassling photographers, and in one case they went so far as to seize a camera.  They gave it back, eventually, but the mood was ugly.  In each case, photographers had ascertained that the kind of shooting they were doing was allowed without a permit.  In each case, the security guards demonstrated a dismal awareness of the law.  Sunday's event was designed to change that.

The day went just as it ought.  We bought our tickets, we passed through the gates, we waited for our train, we rode the train, and we took loads of photos.

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Carlos Miller asking if the guards have any problems with him entering the station with his camera.  They did not.

Carlos Miller as unfailingly polite and respectful, a professional in every way.  So were the guards.  I'm pretty sure they were briefed ahead of time: after all, the protest wasn't a huge secret.  So the guards worked very hard at not harassing us.  And there were extra guards on, so when you've got six guards not harassing you, that's a lot of harassment not happening.

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Two of the guards at the Douglas Road MetroRail Station.

This is the only time I caught a guard expressing anything remotely negative.  And it's a crop from a zoom.  His partner seems OK with it.

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Participants ride the escalator to the Platform

Photography is a right protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.  Just as we are allowed to voice disagreement with our elected and appointed officials, we are allowed to record their actions, and the results of those actions.  The law permits photography in public places, and permits you to take pictures of anything you can see from those public places.

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A man videotaping his MetroRail trip from the train.

Sunday, all the guards we met were aware of our rights.  Will they remember them tomorrow?  Next week?

Only time will tell.

But for now, I have a batch of photos to sift through... feel free to peruse the set on my Flickr photostream.

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