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NYPD Arrest Photographer for Attempting to Photograph Arrest (Updated)

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.

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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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About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.