Monthly Archives: January 2011

New Jersey Cops Threaten Man With Arrest for Videotaping Them


I got back from Colombia late last night and I know I have a lot to catch up on.

The first video that needs to be posted was recorded in Wildwood, New Jersey last year, but it's only coming to light now.

Wildwood police were harassing a man on a boardwalk for wearing the words "Fuck, I'm Lemne" on a t-shirt, which is a First Amendment violation in itself.

"Put the camera away or I'm going to throw it on the ground," one cop threatens.

The man with the camera continues recording, defending his right to videotape in public.

The cop then tells him to "get out of here because you're interfering with my investigation," which is complete bullshit because the videographer was standing several yards from where they were harassing the man with the profane t-shirt.

The cop goes back to harassing the man with the shirt and the man continues recording. A little over a minute later, a couple of other cops walk up to him and begin threatening him.

"Put it away, you're going to be locked up for disobeying a police officer if you don't put it away," one of the new arriving cops tells him.

The man finally turns the camera off.

The cops in the video who made the threats are clearly identifiable. They need to lose their jobs.

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Police Raid Home of Los Angeles Teen Who Was Bailed Out Last Month

Just over a month after he was bailed out of jail by a Google engineer, Jeremy Marks was rudely awakened by almost 30 Los Angeles police officers who raided his home, seizing computers, cell phones and cameras as they ransacked his family's home.

The incident took place Wednesday, according to a website called Liberation, which bills itself as the "newspaper for socialism and liberation."

So far, the Los Angeles Weekly, which has been on top of this story from the beginning, has not mentioned anything about a raid.

According to Liberation:

As the search ended three hours later, the house interior was unrecognizable. In addition to electronic equipment, Jeremy’s notes, papers and legal documents were seized—many of these documents are privileged attorney-client communications.

Every item used to communicate with the outside world about Jeremy’s case was taken from every member of Jeremy’s family, including his parents’ and siblings’ personal possessions.

The raid took place as Jeremy’s mother was attempting to gather herself and bring her kids and the neighbor’s kids to school. The neighbor’s children were at the front door when police came up with shields and shotguns ready.

Pittman recounted to Liberation at the scene that she shouted, “Let me get my granddaughter! Let me get my granddaughter!” as the police barged into the house. Pittman also demanded to wake up her son, Jeremy.

While it might seem far-fetched to some that police would go as far as raiding the home of a citizen who was arrested for merely videotaping police, we've seen it happen in the Anthony Graber case and in the case of a Phoenix man who was raided after he was critical of police on his blog.

The apparent raid on Marks' home was ordered by the district attorney's office who is trying its best to send Marks to prison for seven years for "attempted lynching" because it claims the teen yelled "kick her ass" during a struggle between a female cop and a 15-year-old male student who was allegedly smoking something.

But it's obvious who is doing the real lynching here.

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Hiking Through the Jungles of Colombia



I know I have a lot to catch up on as far as First Amendment, police abuse and photographers' rights stories go, but I've had very little internet access and even less time to actually write stories.

But this video where I'm hiking through the mountainous jungles of Colombia will give you an idea of what I've been up to.

I shot this outside a pueblo called Anolaima, which is about a three-hour drive from Bogota. We hiked a couple of kilometers through the jungles to reach a creek and waterfall.

It wasn't an easy hike considering I am used to the flatlands of Miami, but it wasn't exactly Mount Everest either.

I was carrying two Canon 5Ds and a camera bag with multiple lenses, which ended up weighing me down.

It turned out the most valuable piece of equipment I had on me was my Flip video camera, which is what I used to shoot this video.

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Phil Mocek's Video Still Infuriating Despite his Legal Victory Against TSA



I've been pretty much off my computer these last two days, traveling through various Colombian mountain towns, spending time with family and taking excellent photos and videos.

Tonight, I am dead-tired and was planning on calling it an early night because I have to wake up early to visit some Colombian salt mines.

But after viewing Phil Mocek's video that got him arrested at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, my blood is boiling.

Even though I had reported on the story in 2009 when it first happened and I reported on it last week when he was cleared of all charges, I had not seen the video until tonight.

The arrogance. The insolence. The ignorance dispalyed by the Albuquerque police officers and TSA officials is infuriating.

One of these assholes even reached out to grab Mocek's camera.

Another asshole claims that he was violating TSA's rules and regulations by shooting video.

And another asshole claims you are not allowed to shoot video because it is a federal checkpoint.

The assholes were named in an Infowars article:

Visible and audible in the airport video are Mocek, Albuquerque Airport Police Department officers Robert F. “Bobby” Dilley (badge number 116), Landrow “Wiggy” Wiggins (badge number 137), and Julio A. De La Peña (badge number 135), and TSA staff LTSO Jonathon Breedon, TSM Gerald Romero, STSO Anthony M. Schreiner, Greg Martinez, and BDO Laura Moots.

Mocek's case is important because he is the first person to openly test the TSA policy on photography and it got him arrested.

A jury last week acquitted him of the charges of disorderly conduct and concealing his identity.

But I suspect there are many more TSA officials and police officers who are still clueless about our rights to videotape the checkpoint areas in airports.

So we need to continue testing the system to educate them because they are obviously not being trained by their superiors (and our tax dollars).

I'll be sure to have my video camera handy when I return from Colombia this Sunday. And God help the asshole who tries to prevent me from videotaping


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Man Cleared of All Charges Stemming From TSA Arrest over Video

Phillip Mocek, the man who taught us that we do not need identification to board a plane, was found not guilty today of disorderly conduct, concealing his identification and refusing to obey a police officer.index.jpeg

Mocek, a frequent traveler, attempted to board a plane on Nov. 15, 2009 in Albuquerque without having to show his identification.  

He most likely had his ID. He just didn't want to show it because he knew something that many of us at the time did not know. That there is no law requiring us to surrender our ID to Transportation Security Administration officials as a condition to board a plane.

That was just typical hogwash the TSA fed us, kind of like when they say we are not allowed to videotape checkpoints.

Speaking of which, Mocek's traveling companion, Jesse Gallagos. began videotaping his arrest and ended up getting detained himself and banned from the airport for 24 hours, meaning both men missed their flights.

Prosecutors tried to convince the jury that these men went to the airport with "an agenda" to make cops look stupid, which I can assure you, can be done without an agenda.

Not that having an agenda is anything illegal.It is just proper planning.

Defense attorneys countered that this case was about videotaping cops, which shouldn't come as a surprise to readers of this blog.

According to  The Albuquerque Journal.

Defense co-counsel Nancy Hollander countered, in her opening statement, that the case was about filming.

"It's about the fact that Mr. Mocek was filming in a public place where he had a right to film. ... He decided to film the process as he went through the TSA checkpoint."

She said there is no law that prohibits filming in the airport or at the checkpoint -- although the TSA states that local or state laws may prohibit the practice or the TSA may ask someone to stop if they are "interfering with the screening process" or taking photos of certain monitors.

"The other thing that I suppose we all learned from this case ... is that even though there are signs up that say you're required to have a government ID to travel, you're really not required to have a government ID to travel," Hollander said.


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Man Arrested for Videotaping Cops in Florida

A man was arrested in Florida for videotaping police officers in another clear case where cops have no clue of the laws they are supposed to enforce.

The incident occurred in the Tampa area Saturday night when William Kilgore began videotaping Tarpon Springs officers arresting somebody for drugs.

After noticing he was being videotaped, the cop walked up to Kilgore and demanded the tape as evidence, which he has no right to without a subpoena.

Kilgore refused.

The cop told him hand over the tape or go to jail. Kilgore continued refusing, which led to the officer slapping handcuffs on him.

That was when Kilgore's friend, Tommy Frane, pulled out a camera and began recording. The cop confiscated that camera as well.

My question is, what kind of cameras are these men going to buy when they win their settlement?

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Man Arrested at MIA for Taking Photos

Update: NBC Miami reports that the man was charged with loitering and prowling and also owns a video production company.

Just five days before I tested the Transportation Security Administration photography policy by videotaping a checkpoint at Miami International Airport, a man was arrested at the same airport for taking photos of "sensitive areas."

It is not clear on what charges he was arrested on because the WSVN report does not say.

But it does say police became even more suspicious after they questioned him and he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

The news report also says the sensitive areas he was photographing were buildings, runways, surveillance cameras and "restricted areas,"  which apparently are the same TSA checkpoints we are allowed to photograph.

These areas are so sensitive that WSVN did not hesitate to videotape them to include in its news report.

It turns out, Oluwole Aboyade was a Nigerian national who had overrun his visa, but police did not know that until after they had transported him to the police station.

They turned him over to the feds where he was supposedly wanted on a warrant, but even that part is not clear.

Police said, Aboyade was in the US illegally. The police report read, "Upon arrival at the station, it was learned that Mr. Aboyade had overstayed his work visa and was wanted by ICE."

Miami-Dade Police turned Aboyade over into the custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. ICE will now handle the case. "Once he was there at the facility, it was found that he had some sort of a federal warrant, or they wanted him. He was un-arrested from us and given over to them for their federal charges," said Williams.

It is unfortunate that WSVN allowed itself to fall prey to police hyperbole rather than ask the obvious questions.


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Wackenhut Security Guard Harasses Photog in Front of BoA Building


Photography is Not a Crime readers have done a tremendous job of helping me run this site by constantly sending me tips, stories and videos pertaining to photographers' rights.

Every once in a while, some slip under my radar because I'm busy when I receive it, so I file it away, intending to get to it later and then I just get more tips and unintentionally forget about the prior tip.

Today, a reader named Tom McElvy  mentioned that I had snubbed his video. Sometimes I do choose not to post a video if I don't find it particularly interesting.

But I usually always post videos where there is a confrontation of an authority figure against a videographer over the right to shoot in a public place.

In this video, Tom evidently has a history of being harassed by Wackenhut security guards in front of a Bank of America building in Norfolk, Virginia.

He does a good job of documenting the interaction as well as assertively standing up for his rights.

The incident took place last September, but it is still worth a view because we can learn from Tom how to handle these situations.


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Testing Out TSA Photography Policy on Flight to Colombia (Videos)

So I flew into Colombia Sunday where I will stay two weeks, enjoying time with my family that lives down here.

Naturally, I would not allow a golden opportunity like this to pass without testing the photography policy at the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint of Miami International Airport.

I even tested the policy on videography in the customs area of El Dorado Airport in Bogota.

Not surprisingly, a TSA official told me photography and videography at checkpoints was illegal.

We already know that´s bullshit.

In fact, if you look at the video, you will see that another airport official told me I was forbidden from shooting video before I even entered the checkpoint area (this being Miami, she had to say it in Spanish).

I told her that I was allowed and she didn´t push the matter any further, probably realizing she really had no idea on the actual policy on photography and videography.

Instead, she turned her attention to my mom who was trying to enter the checkpoint with one of those luggage carts, telling her that it was not allowed.

Then I continued videotaping as I showed a TSA official my passport. She seemed a little surprised by this, but did not say anything. However, my mom saw her pick up the phone as soon as I walked away.

A few seconds later, a TSA official whom I assume was a supervisor confronted me about why I was videotaping the checkpoint, informing me that it was illegal.

I ended up showing him the TSA blog post that confirms it is legal, which, of course, was something he had never seen.

After a few minutes of him reading over the printout, he let me go without further discussion, advising me not to videotape the monitors, which was never my intention as I explain in the video.

Then I tested out the videography policy in the customs area of the Bogota airport where a Colombian police officer quickly told me that it was not allowed. I complied with his order because I have no knowledge and no documentation that I am allowed to do so.

Besides, I didn´t want to kick off my vacation in a Colombian jail.

This was the second time I tested the TSA policy on photography at Miami International Airport. The first time was the day before Thanksgiving.

My internet access down here is sporadic and my laptop deserves to be trashed and I am being kept busy with my large family down here, so I am not sure how often I will be updating Photography is Not a Crime during the next two weeks.

But please keep sending me the tips that keep this blog going because I will update when I can.

Also, tomorrow I will be interviewed by phone on the Global Freedom Report by host Brent Johnson. I will go on between 5:17 to 5:55 p.m. EST.You can listen live on the above link.

And I am in the running for the South Florida Daily Blog Post of the Year contest. I have three PINAC entries as well as an article I wrote for Miami Beach 411.

I will let you guys decide which one out of the three PINAC entries deserves to win.

If I win this contest, I will receive a $50 gift certificate, which I will use to purchase the wide-angle lens for the Flip camera - the camera I used to shoot the two videos.


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