The editor of a popular railfan magazine was detained, handcuffed, frisked and cited by New York City police officers for photographing trains four months ago – but the incident is just coming to light now.
Apparently, Railfan & Railroad Magazine editor Steve Barry was acting under the advice of lawyers by waiting this long to publish an account of the incident, which took place on August 21.
An account of the incident will be published in the January issue of the magazine, but the editorial was posted Thursday on Subchat.
On August 21, 2010, your editor, along with contributor Mike Burkhart, went into New York City to photograph the Transit Museum’s historic train, which was making a run to the Rockaways. After shooting for most of the day, we were waiting for the return trip at the Broad Channel station when we were approached by two (and eventually, five) officers of the New York Police Department. They insisted that photography was not allowed. After asking for i.d., I gave a verbal legal i.d. (full name and hometown) and repeatedly asked for a supervisor. I soon found myself in handcuffs.
The two men were cited under 1050.9.C of the New York City Rules of Conduct, which only forbids the use of tripods, lights and reflectors when photographing or videotaping trains, which apparently they were not using.
Photography, filming or video recording in any facility or conveyance is permitted except that ancillary equipment such as lights, reflectors or tripods may not be used. Members of the press holding valid identification issued by the New York City Police Department are hereby authorized to use necessary ancillary equipment. All photographic activity must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Part.
They contacted the New York Civil Liberties Union, which got the citations dropped.
They were also cited for not producing proper identification, which they were really not obligated to do since they were not breaking a law in the first place.
I know lawyers have their own way of thinking, but I don’t believe in keeping the story under wraps for several months if you were unlawfully arrested or cited.