UPDATE: Here is the protest video.
The photo protest is on for Friday (tomorrow) at 1 p.m. in Ft. Lauderdale. Only we’re not supposed to call it a protest because of permitting issues.
So we’re calling it a lunch-in where we plan to meet at Tarpon Bend, 200 SW 2nd St., and have lunch at one of the outside tables.
There are many restaurants in that area with outdoor seating, so you can eat and sit wherever you want. I just might grab a slice from Squiggy’s across the street because I love their pizza.
The idea is to take photos while we’re eating because the City of Fort Lauderdale has decided that photography in that area is forbidden.
Police and city officials are basically allowing the producers of the movie Rock of Ages, who are filming in that area, to rewrite the Constitution for them.
They even had the gall to go on record with the South Florida Sun Sentinel to say that the public is allowed to spend their dollars at the restaurants, just not allowed to take photos outside the restaurants.
The public is allowed to walk into the Himmarshee area to visit bars and restaurants, but taking out a camera is a no-no, city and police officials said.
This is pretty laughable and opens them up to lawsuits. In fact, local attorney and publisher Norm Kent has already filed a suit.
And if they arrest me for taking photos tomorrow, I can assure you I will file another one, which is why it’s important for people to bring their video cameras and capture the arrest.
The Society of Professional Journalists has promised that they would bail anybody out who gets arrested that same afternoon.
I doubt police will make any arrests unless we walk on the actual film set, which is not our plan.
We just believe that if we are allowed to walk in the area, we are allowed to take photos in the area.
As I told the Broward-Palm Beach New Times yesterday, the issue seems to be that Fort Lauderdale is not used to dealing with huge Hollywood filmmakers, so they’re essentially creaming in their pants over the thought of having Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mary J. Blige in their backyard.
The filmmakers have acquired a city permit to shoot in that area and have rented out the nightclub Revolutions Live.
The filmmakers then posted signs telling people that they are forbidden from taking photos, referencing a city ordinance that has nothing to do with photography or trespassing for that matter.
And Fort Lauderdale police are enforcing this demand with the approval of the city attorney.
One celebrity photographer I spoke with said he has been shooting outside movie sets for 14 years throughout the country and has never had such an issue with police as he has had with Fort Lauderdale police.
Usually, they allow the celebrity photographers to stand just outside the film set and shoot whatever they can with their telephoto lenses.
The National Press Photographers Association, which sent a letter to the Fort Lauderdale mayor and police chief last week, demanding them to stop this unconstitutional infringement, is also supporting the protest.
The last time I organized a photo protest, more than 20 photographers showed up to a Miami-Dade Metrorail station on a rainy Sunday afternoon and it did not have any of the support or media coverage this issue has been receiving.
So I imagine we will have a good turnout.
If you live in South Florida and are free for the afternoon, come join us. You don’t need a fancy camera. A cell phone camera will do.
SPJ will be posting photos on its national site, so if you want to be part of that, send an email to South Florida Chapter Michael Koretzky. His email is listed in this press release.
My phone number is also on that press release, so give me a call if you plan to come.