December 3rd, 2012

NYPD Arrest Photographer for Attempting to Photograph Arrest (Updated) 11

By Carlos Miller

Freelance photographer Angel Zayas getting arrested by New York City police (Photo by Carlo Allegri – Reuters).

 

A New York City photojournalist was arrested inside a subway station last week while trying to photograph NYPD officers making an arrest.

Angel Zayas, a freelance photographer for Demotix, a platform where citizen journalists can offer their photos to traditional media, was charged with disorderly conduct and excessive noise after he apparently stood up for his rights when police ordered him to stop taking photos.

A Reuters photojournalist snapped his photo outside the station when police appear to be placing him inside their patrol car.

I reached out to Zayas today for comment but he said he was advised by his attorney not to make any public statements.

I don’t know much about Demotix but I’m bothered by the fact that they openly admit they would have tried to keep this arrest quiet if it wasn’t for that pesky photographer from Reuters who not only photographed Zayas getting arrested, but published it on the internet.

When we hear about a Demotix contributor in trouble, we tend to try to work quietly to help however we can. But since some of you may have seen the story about the recent arrest of a Demotix contributor in New York City, we thought we’d share a quick update on the status of the photographer, Angel Zayas.

Angel, who had been photographing police perform an unrelated arrest in a crowded subway, says he was arrested, taken to a police precinct and cited for “disorderly conduct” and “excessive noise” after he voiced his legal right to photograph police officers in public places.

Angel informed us via email of his arrest, as did a Reuters employee who had been in contact with a stringer for that agency who happened to witness (and photograph) the scene. We put Angel in touch with staff for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Committee to Protect Journalists, and he is now in contact with media lawyers who are interested in his case.

Usually when a news agency tries to work out these arrests behind the scenes is because they don’t want to hinder relations with the police department.

But once an arrest is made, those relations have already been hindered and it’s up to the news agency to use its power to ensure it doesn’t happen again. And that power is in their ability to communicate to the masses.

UPDATE: I just received the following email from Corey Pein, editor-in-chief at Demotix. I will correct the misspelling of the name.

Hi Carlos,
Nice idea for a blog you’ve got there. Good cause.

But I just saw your post on the arrest of Angel Zayas.

http://www.photographyisnotacrime.com/nypd-arrest-photographer-for-attempting-to-photograph-arrest/

I have to ask for a number of corrections, as well as a response.

Perhaps he was too polite to tell you: You misspelled his name two
different ways in your post speculating about his arrest. He is not
“Zara” as in your caption or “Zaras” as elsewhere in your post but
Zayas, with a “y,” as you can see from his Demotix profile
(http://www.demotix.com/users/angel-zayas/profile) and his personal
website (http://www.zayasphotography.com/).

Unfortunately it is not the only factual error in your post.

You write:

“I don’t know much about Demotix but I’m bothered by the fact that they
openly admit they would have tried to keep this arrest quiet if it
wasn’t for that pesky photographer from Reuters who not only
photographed Zaras getting arrested, but published it on the internet.”

You should’ve stopped after “I don’t know much about Demotix,” and then
picked up the phone, or sent an email. You know this. You’re a
journalist.

Instead, you went on to impugn our motives based on zero knowledge of
the situation:

“Usually when a news agency tries to work out these arrests behind the
scenes is because they don’t want to hinder relations with the police
department.

“But once an arrest is made, those relations have already been hindered
and it’s up to the news agency to use its power to ensure it doesn’t
happen again. And that power is in their ability to communicate to the
masses.”

First of all, your guess as to why a news agency “usually” tries to work
behind the scenes is completely off base, not just in this specific
case, but in general. You should read up on the David Rohde case, among
others. You’ll see that these issues are often much more complicated
than you imagine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping_of_David_Rohde#Media_blackout

Demotix has an international contributor base. Some of our contributors
deal with men with guns who are scarier than the NYPD’s worst. I don’t
say that to minimize what Angel or anyone else has gone through, but to
hopefully start you thinking about why we might choose to assess these
situations carefully before rushing to publicize them.

I have to admit chuckling at your insinuation that we were trying to
preserve some chummy relationship we have with the NYPD—a relationship
that exists only in your imagination—because I know from personal
experience how bad that particular department can be in dealing with
journalists and demonstrators. I would’ve told you about that, had you
tried to contact me.

In the comments, you go on to state that the Corbis acquisition somehow
“explains it.” Explains what, Carlos? How?

Let me be clear: We were glad for that “pesky photographer” from Reuters
and I know Angel was too. He did his job. You did not.

That said, I’d like to invite the photographers among readership to
contribute. We’d be happy to distribute their work. We take 50 percent
on sale. It’s a pretty straightforward deal. They can learn more here:

http://www.demotix.com/sellable-news

You’re welcome to sign up, too, but I have to tell you up front, I’d
personally be looking over your copy.

Regards,


Corey Pein, editor-in-chief, Demotix


Click here to email Carlos Miller.

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  • glassbeadian
    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647684635 Carlos Miller

      That explains it.

  • Gordon Freeman

    Sounds like everyone with a camera needs to start carrying a ‘body cam’ of the type Carlos has pointed out before. Perhaps with a tab that pulls the battery cover, pull the tab and the camera starts recording. For the photog in this case it’s his word against the cops, and the corporations.

  • http://twitter.com/discarted discarted

    Not surprised Demotix made nothing of this unlawful arrest. I’ve seen this happen with major networks in LA with cops and they do nothing about it either when the cops prohibit them from moving freely to cover the news. It happened last week on Avenue of the Stars where the guy hung himself from the streetlight during an Occupy protest. These MSM news agencies just don’t want to ruffle the feathers of one of their bedfellows. I mean how could they regurgitate, word for word, a police press release of an incident without kissing ass.

  • Haeshu

    Why do they arrest on a disorderly charge? What is disorderly about standing out of the way of the officers and taking a picture? What do they have to hide that a photograph might reveal???

    • ExCop-LawStudent

      Disorderly conduct is typically, in most states, a very broad charge, that can cover a range of activities. Contempt of cop arrests for DC and public intoxication are common. I used to watch what my officers were arresting people for, and if I noticed a high ratio of those two offenses, I would bird dog them for awhile to make sure that they weren’t making the COC arrests.

      Unfortunately, the system promotes this type of action on the officer’s part. They are trained to take control on the street as a means of self-protection. When someone disputes what they say, they escalate to maintain control.

      If the photographer is out of the way, they should be left alone.

      A lot of times, the officer just doesn’t want his picture taken and published, and incorrectly believe that they have a right to prevent it. Some of that comes from the fact that many states prohibit the employing government from releasing photos or other personal information on the officer without the officers consent, unless certain exceptions are met.

      And some officer do want to hide what they are doing.

  • steveo

    Censorship is alive and well in the US. We need Larry Flint to help us with this onslought. Apparently showing private parts of females and males and sexual relations between the two or three are acceptable to the SCOTUS but filming the activities of the secret police are not.

  • steveo

    In states that have one party consent, the leos use obstruction, harassment, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, trespassing and resisting arrest to further their censorship activities. In two party or all party consent states, leos use wiretapping or eavesdropping to arrest photojournalists. Prosecutors keep dropping charges, and ACLU keeps suing but the leos don’t care and don’t stop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647684635 Carlos Miller

    Just updated the post with an email from Corey Pein, editor-in-chief from Demotix.

  • rob

    it’s a catch-all “harassment” charge. when the cop wants to get rid of people they don’t want around they give them this charge, and the person goes through the system. the cop knows the charges won’t stick, but additionally knows the person who is charge will have to deal with the consequences, i.e., going through the system, clearing his name. as i’ve said, harassment.

  • focusrally

    Time to collect the money. Well let’s be clear here, The lawyers whom Angel will meet probably in a few weeks will launch a long drawn out suit against these ruthless cops and the city. It won’t be Angel who benefits in the end. The victim is never really the aggressor in these situstions with the cops. The problem is that the Mayor and the Police Commisioner say one thing and their stormtroopers do another. The cops in the street and subway do whateverr the hell they want. The people of NYC shoild be outraged by the behavior of some of these arrogant cops who think they can go around abusing people because the city will just pay to maje it go away. Stop the NYPD attacks on photojournalists!

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