Mark Bralley, retired police officer and longtime Photography is Not a Crime reader, is no stranger to getting harassed for taking photos.
The man who spent 24 years as an Albuquerque police officer has been thrown off the University of New Mexico campus – which happens to be his alma mater – at least five times for taking photos, including last November for photographing uniformed Secret Service agents during a John McCain rally.
The latest incident took place at an event where Lt. Governor Diane Denish was speaking. He happened to be an invited guest. He began taking photos for his blog, where he covers New Mexico politics.
He was thrown out because he was not the hired photographer.
It’s a pretty absurd situation considering the woman who had him thrown out – Aline Gonzeles – is an “on-call employee” who was hired by the university to coordinate the event.
She is nothing but a freelance party planner.
In Miami, they are a dime a dozen. And they are usually pretty friendly towards photographers because they understand the power – and danger – of publicity.
But Gonzales obviously hasn’t a clue. Maybe she will once her picture starts making the rounds. Or when potential clients start Googling her name and discover she acts more like a mafia goon than an event coordinator.
This is how Bralley describes the exchange:
“If you take one more photograph, I’m throwing you out,” she said.
As Denish began to speak I took a photograph. The woman swiped my back, ordered me not to take pictures. She grabbed my arm several times. I didn’t move or pull away from her grasp, but I did take her picture.
She said she was calling security.
I returned to my seat and made a few more photographs.
As Denish wrapped up her speech I was approached by a number of people with UNM SUB nametags and a uniformed UNM police officer.
Four more cops arrived. Not one asked for his side of the story. Even after he showed them his invitation and told them he had a recording device at the podium, which one of them ended up retrieving.
They escorted him out the room as Denish – who happens to live on his same block – stood at the podium watching without saying a word.
The only person who stepped up was my former Public Administration’s Professor and Advisor T. Zane Reeves, who came out into the hallway and asked openly, “did the former police union president get…?”
After a pregnant pause, I said, “arrested?” “No charge but yes arrested.”
And the irony of the story?
Denish, who is running for the democratic governor nomination, was speaking about the importance of an open and accessible government.