Photos by Marco Perez

Skateboarding is not a crime but photography apparently is a crime. At least in Phoenix where there have been several recent reports of photographers getting harassed by cops in the downtown area.

The latest incident involves a pair of skateboarders and a photographer named Marco Perez who arrived at the beloved Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Building last weekend to take some action shots.

But a security guard approached them and told them they had to leave the property because it was closed.

However, he did assure them that they were allowed to take photos of the courthouse as long as they stood on the sidewalk.

So they stepped down onto the sidewalk and set up a light stand with an umbrella and started taking their shots, including the one above with the courthouse in the background.

When they were done taking photos, a Phoenix motorcycle cop pulled up and asked to see their film permit.

“He told me I needed to have one and I could NOT take pictures of the courthouse,” Perez said in an email to Photography is Not a Crime.

So basically we have a situation where the security guard understands the law better than the police officer.

Ironically, the cop didn’t say anything about their skateboards. He probably didn’t see them skating off the walls. Or maybe harassing skateboarders is just so passe.

“He said things like, ‘remember Oklahoma’,” Perez said, as in remember the Oklahoma City bombing.

The officer also claimed to be the head of the Phoenix Film Office, which states the following on its website:

A Phoenix Film and Digital Media Permit (FDM Permit) is required to film in city owned buildings, parks and public-right-of-ways within the defined boundaries of the City of Phoenix. The FDM Permit covers features, TV series and shows, commercials, web casts and still photography used for commercial use.

Perez said he was only taking pictures for himself and his friends, and that the officer never mentioned anything about commercial photography.

To obtain a permit, one must submit a written proposal of the scope of work, take out a $1 million insurance policy and pay a $100 permit fee.

Oh, and here’s the kicker. One is also advised to hire off-duty police officers at the rate of $40-an-hour for a minimum of three hours.

Perhaps officer friendly needed the hours.

“What is real sad is that downtown was empty at 10 a.m.,” Perez said. “That is why I go, cause I know it’s empty. They just don’t know that these policies are what keeps downtown from being a money maker.

“All these nice properties and no one can capture their beauty. Sad.

“Did you notice the flag I put in the composition… We happen to like America.”