Photography is no longer a crime in Fort Lauderdale.
Not that it ever was.
But it took more than two dozen photographers to defiantly protest a fake ordinance Friday that was banning photography from outside the Rock of Ages film set near the city’s downtown.
The cops knew we were coming, so they removed the signs that had stated photography was illegal under ordinance 16.1, which really has nothing to do with photography or trespassing for that matter.
And for the first time since Rock of Ages began filming, photographers were not threatened with arrest.
So the lesson here, as we learned during last year’s Miami-Dade Metrorail photo protest, is that it takes large groups of photographers to remind cops and security guards that photography is not a crime.
About 30 photographers attended last week’s protest, which is not bad considering it was 1 p.m. Friday when most people were still working.
The media also covered it, including the South Florida Sun Sentinel and WSVN TV news.
Police ended up drawing a line in the sand and telling us we couldn’t cross it.
But because they had removed the signs banning photography, which also warned against trespassing, the perimeter they set up was not established and kept getting expanded on the whim of the officer.
Cops said that the filmmakers rented out an entire block, which gave them the right to treat it as a private road.
But that imaginary line kept growing to include railroad tracks that are not part of the area they rented.
The Sun Sentinel had a misleading headline, stating: “First Amendment supporters protest new movie.”
We were not protesting the new movie. We were protesting the false laws they had created against photographers.
And WSVN erroneously stated that we were protesting against an existing city ordinance when there is no such ordinance in place.
But I’m happy they covered it.
Koretzky is the president of the South Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, so he was the main organizer of this protest and did an excellent job by bringing together myself, attorney Norm Kent, who filed the lawsuit, and students from the Student Law Press Center.
The Society of Professional Journalists posted its recap here.
Jahn also wrote a follow-up to his original article where he took issue with WSVN for not getting their facts straight.
Even Random Pixels (who did not attend) wrote about it by taking his usual swipe at me.
SPJ South Florida Chapter President Michael Koretzky attended yesterday’s court hearing on the issue.
And here’s a more in-depth piece from the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Here is the court order that states photography is allowed near the Rock of Ages film set.
Here is an account from the National Press Photographers Association.