One reason why cops are able to abuse the laws regarding photographers’ rights is because so many people with cameras have no clue about their rights.
That is, until it is too late.
Take the case of Gabriel Argenta, an Indiana photographer who had his camera confiscated from him Monday under the pretense of Homeland Security.
Argenta is a railfan who walked onto the Cline Avenue Bridge in East Chicago, a public street that has since been closed to traffic because it was too expensive to repair.
This is how he explains it in an email to Photography is Not a Crime:
I walked up an exit ramp in East Chicago to shoot some photos of trains passing under (I’m a railfan). I understand the cops coming up and telling me I was trespassing (although no where does it say
“don’t walk up here” actually there were zero barricades of any sort where I entered from.
But since the steel mills are in the background of many of the photos, the took my camera in on the basis of “homeland security” “nine eleven” and other war on terror BS. I understand I should be happy they let me go on the trespassing charges, but are steel mills or even the BP refinery in nearby Whiting, Indiana enough reason for the EC police to confiscate a camera without a search warrant?
While they may have had probable cause to confront him about walking onto the bridge, the East Chicago police officers were clearly out of line in confiscating his camera.
The problem is, he was not aware of his rights until after the incident when he did some research and came across PINAC.
Perhaps he should have invested in the Photographers’ Rights Gray Card Set.
Now Argenta is wondering what he can do to get his camera and hopefully his images back.
Well he can do one of two things. Demand it back with or without a lawyer.
The second choice might have more impact, especially if he demands some type of remedy along with his camera.