In one of the most absurd incidents of the new year, a photographer in New York City is ordered to delete his images because he had photographed an open ATM as well as a Muslim.
Muslims have apparently gone from being scapegoat victims of racial profiling to protected denizens immune from our First Amendment rights to photograph them.
The photographer who goes by Lucky Dog on Flickr says he was walking down the street when he came upon an open ATM being serviced by two men.
If that scenario sounds familiar, it’s because last year, a Seattle man was arrested after photographing an open ATM inside a department store. That guy was banned from inside the store for a year.
I guess the Seattle man is lucky he didn’t photograph a Muslim in the process.
Lucky Dog wasn’t so lucky.
One of the ATM tech guys informed Lucky Dog that he was a Muslim, so therefore, he was not allowed to photograph him.
Lucky Dog ended up getting assaulted by the Muslim’s partner, who held and pushed him before he was able to run across the street. Lucky Dog said he tried to enter a hotel but a doorman blocked his entrance.
When police arrived on the scene, Lucky Dog intended to file a complaint of assault against the ATM technician.
But the cops turned against Lucky Dog by informing him there is a “policy” against taking photos of ATMs.
The cop also chided him for photographing the Muslim as it went against his religion.
To make the story even more absurd, Lucky Dog tried to explain that he didn’t know the man was a Muslim, which is like acknowledging that he did something wrong.
The cops didn’t seem to care that Lucky Dog had been assaulted by one of the ATM techs.
In fact, an Officer Pryce from the Seventh Precinct ordered him to delete his images or get arrested for assault.
The cop even threatened Lucky Dog with a hate crime because he photographed a Muslim (I actually made that part up, but the rest is true. What the fuck?).
Here it is straight from Lucky Dog’s Flickr post, which I’m not even going to bother editing for clarity and punctuation because I’m disgusted by the whole thing.
I get the muslim man over here and tell him that I did not know he was muslim and that under the threat of arrest i will delete the photos of him. the muslim tells the police to scroll the pictures 2 up and 2 down to make sure the photos are all gone saying he felt I was being dishonest. [I hold back a comment regarding muslims, dishonesty, and osama] and scroll through the camera so he is satisfied.
I ask the police if they know about the policy regarding street photography, pryce seemed to nod his head in assent. I also tell him that I did not know he was muslim, that was after the fact, and that taking a photo of his face was unintentional, he just happened to turn his face to the camera at the wrong moment.
Just in case there is any confusion, there is no crime against photographing an open ATM machine if you can see it from a public street. And even if you are inside a store, the worst they can do to you is ask you to leave or be arrested for trespassing.
Contrary to what the NYPD cop said, there is no “policy” against photographing ATMs nor a law against photographing Muslims for that matter.
They can’t arrest you for taking the photo. They can’t assault you for taking the photo. And they sure as hell can’t order you to delete the photo. And that includes you, Officer Pryce.