Update: Here is a video where Shia gives an interview. Her court date is set for Nov. 6.
Nancy Shia, a 61-year-old elected official and freelance photographer, was arrested Sunday as she photographed Washington D.C. police making an arrest.
Police say she walked into a crime scene and refused a police command to stop taking pictures with her digital camera, and was then arrested.
Shia, an Adams Morgan advisory neighborhood commissioner whose photos are posted on a Website called Up Close and Political, ended up spending 16 hours in jail. Police have yet to return her camera.
According to her online bio, Shia has extensive experience as a photographer, an elected commissioner and neighborhood activist, which is probably the real reason she was arrested.
Nancy Shia has been a news and social documentary photographer for over forty years, as well as a poster artist, muralist and street artist in DC for the past twenty years. From 1986-2005, she was a reporter and editor for a Washington news service, where she covered thousands of press briefings, Congressional hearings and other media events.
Nancy is also a member of the photographers committee of the National Press Club, and received a National Press Club Vivian Award for community service in 2004. Her photography covers many subjects, including antiwar demonstrations and student uprisings, Adams Morgan community development, post-hurricane Honduras in 1998, Cuba in the 1990s, and an extensive collection of national, international and local political leaders available at www.upcloseandpolitical.com.
She was an Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the early 1980s, and was twice voted parent of the year by the Ward I Educational Council. Nancy graduated from City College of New York in1970, Columbia University School of Social Work in 1972, and the Antioch School of Law in 1978.
After reading her experience, it’s hard to believe the police report outlined in The Washington Post.
A police report said she impeded an investigation, took pictures within a crime scene and failed to leave when told. It also said she opened a police vehicle to photograph a suspect who was a juvenile.
Shia said she followed instructions, did not intrude on any crime scene and did not open the door of any police vehicle. She said she photographed two women who had just been arrested and were sitting in the street. A third person who was arrested was also there, but not in a car, she said.
If the police report states that “she took pictures within a crime scene” it is obvious they don’t even know the laws they are enforcing because there is no law in the books that states this is illegal.
The irony is that a police surveillance camera might reveal the truth of what actually took place that night.
D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who called Shia “a good soul,” said a nearby police surveillance camera might clarify events.
I have a feeling that Shia is not going to let them get away with this one.