In the latest saga between photographers and New York City police officers, a commercial photographer was intimidated into giving up his film after an irate mother complained to police that he had photographed her child in Coney Island.
Yes, Coney Island, one of the most public places in the United States. There is no law against photographing anybody in public, including children. And police for that matter.
Simon Lund said he was photographing the rides, something he does on a regular basis, and was not aware if he had photographed the woman’s child.
Nevertheless, a New York City police officer ordered Lund to either destroy his film or hand it over to the child’s mother, according to The Village Voice newspaper.
“You should destroy your film right now, or give it to her. You’ve got
to give up your film, or things are going to get much worse for you, the officer told Lund.”
Lund said he had no choice but to hand over his film to the mother. Now he plans on filing a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which is looking into the matter, said incidents like this are nothing new.
The NYCLU has filed several lawsuits against the NYPD, accusing them of violating First Amendment rights in its harassment of photographers.
One of the suits, Sharma v. NYPD, was filed in January 2006, when Indian filmmaker Rakesh Sharma, who was shooting taxis in midtown, was stopped by police and detained for several hours, during which he was quizzed about “terrorist” activities. That August, the suit was expanded at the NYCLU’s request to include a slew of photographers.
Click here to see some of Lund’s Coney Island photos. Click the following links to read more about NYPD cracking down on photographers.