Clayton Patterson, a filmmaker renowned for capturing the seedy underground of the pre-gentrification Lower East Side, was arrested July 17th after photographing a group of firefighters in New York City.
The NYPD officer apparently arrested him because he did not have a press pass, which is a baseless arrest because non-journalists have the same right to document street activity as journalists do.
Patterson said he was only trying to get a good shot, and that it turned out to be nothing major, anyway, “just smoke in someone’s kitchen.” The arresting police officer, an Officer Lugo, told him he needed a press pass.
Patterson, who was released after two hours, has been documenting the Lower East Side for 30 years, including the 1988 Tompkins Square Park Riots.
That year, he spent 10 days in jail for refusing to hand over his film of the notorious riots. Over the years, he was arrested 14 times for videotaping or photographing police, mostly because his footage of the Riots got several police officers in trouble.
“For a few years after the riots, it was quite common to get arrested,” he said. “That tape got a lot of cops criminally indicted and fired.
Clayton and his work will be featured in the upcoming film, Captured. I’m looking forward to seeing this film. Check out the brilliant trailer below.