On Aug. 4 Robert Stolarik, a freelance photographer for The New York Times, was arrested and charged with obstructing government administration and with resisting arrest while photographing the arrest of a teenage girl. Journalists experienced similar treatment during the NYPD’s early morning raid of Zuccotti Park, at the NATO summit in Chicago in May and at Occupy protests across the country.
Mickey H. Osterreicher, a former press photographer and the lawyer for the National Press Photographers Association, spoke with Times writer James Estrin Tuesday about the criminalization of photography.
Osterreicher, who has also been a reserve deputy in Erie county sheriff’s department since 1976, said that since 9/11 there has been a sharp increase in photographers being hassled or arrested for simply recording video or taking pictures in public.
He says that “every citizen should be concerned.”
Osterreicher explained that the reason one can take pictures in public is the same reason why security cameras are allowed to photograph citizens – because “when we’re out in public we have no reasonable expectation of privacy.”
He advises photojournalists to stay calm, be reasonable and “as cooperative as you can,” but to remember that you don’t have to show police your pictures and you can ask to speak with a supervisor.
As for ordinary citizens, Osterreicher says to “just be aware that this may happen to you” and if hassled to assert the right to take pictures in public.
Check out the interview at The New York Times >
Osterreicher told The New York Times:
We look at the images that come out of Syria and Libya where people risk their lives in order to get images out. Most of those images that we’ve seen are coming from citizens with their mobile phones. They risk their lives, and we consider those efforts heroic. And yet in this country, somebody doing the very same thing is considered suspect. I have a real problem with that.
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