Photo by Thomas Hawk

Update: The Long Beach Harbor Patrol responds to Thomas Hawk’s complaint. In essence, they want photographers to check into their station before taking photos. Uh huh. Oh yeah, they also mention 9/11.

A Long Beach Harbor Patrol officer told two photographers they needed a permit to photograph industrial plants, even though they were standing on a public sidewalk.

Now one of the photographers has contacted the LBHP demanding an inquiry into the incident.

And he has actually received a response.

The photographers are Thomas Hawk and David Sommars, both based in California. Hawk, one of the most vocal critics regarding photographer rights abuses, has been blogging about these incidents for years, including my arrest in Feb. 2007.

Last week, he traveled from San Francisco to Los Angeles and joined Sommars for some long-exposure photography of the industrial plants at Long Beach Harbor.

Now I know many people will automatically say that photographing industrial plants should be banned because of terrorism or whatever. But it hasn’t been banned. And it doesn’t look like it will be banned anytime soon.

In fact, Los Angeles officials are more concerned about protecting celebrities from photographers than they are about protecting industrial plants from photographers, so there is no reason for these cops who patrol these plants to think otherwise.

This is how Hawk described the conversation with the officers:

Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: “I’m going to have to ask you guys to leave.”

Us: “But, why, were simply taking art photographs.”

Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: “You’re not allowed to photograph these plants.”

Us: “But we’re on a public sidewalk. What law doesn’t allow us to photograph here?”

Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: “You’ll need to come back tomorrow and get a permit if you want to shoot in the Harbor.”

Me: “I’m only down in Long Beach for tonight and won’t be able to do that.”

2nd Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer (shrugging her shoulders): Oh, well, you’re just going to have to leave. Photography is not allowed here without a permit.”

During this altercation both David and I were asked to present identification to the police. They used our IDs to run background checks on both of us.

Hawk has since contacted the media relations department of the Long Beach Harbor Patrol and has received a response from an Art Wong, who assured him he is looking into the matter.

I won’t be holding my breath.