San Francisco fare inspectors have once again proven clueless when it comes to photographers’ rights.
This time, it took a 16-year-old high school kid to educate them.
The student was filming inside a rail car of the San Francisco Municipal Railway – what the locals call the “Muni” – when he was confronted by a pair of fare inspectors who told him he was not allowed to film them.
The student kept filming and kept asserting his First Amendment rights to film on public property. One inspector told him that it was not public property, but private property.
The railway is funded by the county and city, so you decide whether it is public or private property.
Another inspector threatened to sue him if his image appeared online, before demanding his personal information.
The student ended up being detained for 20 minutes.
The student filed a complaint and received a form letter response.
The story was posted on the San Francisco Appeal, which contacted Muni spokesperson Judson True, who refused to comment on this specific incident, but confirmed that the Muni is updating its policy of taking pictures inside rail cars and train stations.
“Yes, and the policy will say that non-commercial video and photography will be OK as long as it doesn’t disturb transit.”
“We have a little more work to do to get it written up and clarified. But we should have it soon.”
After all, this is not the first time fare inspectors have gone overboard with their authority.