Monthly Archives: July 2011

United Threatens To Place Woman On No-Fly List For Taking Photo Of Name Tag

Less than a month after a woman was escorted off a US Airways flight for snapping a photo of an employee nametag, a United Airlines employee threatened to place a woman on the “no-fly” list for doing the same thing.

The passenger named Helen said she was recently checking in her bags at Houston's international airport for a flight to Costa Rica when she became annoyed at the inept service.

She used her cell phone to snap a photo of an employee’s nametag for the purpose of filing a complaint.

Within minutes, the employee was chasing her down the terminal, ordering her to delete the photo.

This is how she explained it to The Consumerist:

She demanded that I hand over my camera phone so that she could delete the photo I took. I politely refused. She then insisted that I delete the photo while she watched. I again refused. She then informed me that if I didn't delete the photo in her presence, she would call the Houston Police Department, have be arrested, put me on the "no-fly list" and "make me miss my fancy Costa Rica vacation." She stated, "you will never fly my airline again." I asked her what law she was talking about and she replied, "My law."

Absurd threats from power-tripping ticket agents don't scare me. However they do scare my daughter, who began sobbing. I knew full well I broke no law and that the police don't have the time or resources for this garbage. My daughter had no such confidence. I deleted the photo and [the staffer] smirked at us and walked away. When we asked a TSA agent about it, she laughed, "of course it's not illegal."

Helen wrote to United and to Continental, which merged last year with United to form United Continental, the world’s largest air carrier.

They are operating as separate airlines until they receive a joint certification from the Federal Aviation Administration later this year, according to Bloomberg News.

United confirmed that photography will in deed get you placed on the no-fly list, while Continental apologized for the incident.

Below are the responses from both airlines, beginning with the response from United:

What you refer to as a law is actually a United policy. We strive to make its customer experience safe and comfortable and accordingly issued the following policy in regard to the use of personal audio and video equipment. This policy is not a contract and does not create any legal rights or obligations.

Unauthorized photography, audio, or video recording of airline personnel, aircraft equipment, or procedures is always prohibited. Any voice, audio, video, or other photography (motion or still), recording, or transmission while on any United Airlines aircraft or in the terminal is strictly prohibited, except to the extent specifically permitted by United Airlines.

Insistence on violating any one of these prohibitions could lead to arrest or being placed on the "no-fly list". Those results are extreme but are possible depending on the environment at the time. I hope this information helps.

Continental’s response:

The behavior you described is not reflective of our commitment to providing our customers the highest level of service. I apologize for the negative impression this situation created. We intend to provide a high-quality experience, tailored to meet the individual needs of our passengers.

Based on your comments, we did not meet your expectations, and I regret you were not satisfied with the service provided. I realize my apology cannot erase what happened, but I hope it helps to know we take your concerns very seriously.

At Continental Airlines, we believe all customers and co-workers are to be treated with dignity and respect. This philosophy is deeply woven into everything we do. I regret that [the staffer] did not meet this standard.

We expect our representatives to realize their responses to your requests can make a difference in your perception of our overall product.

[P]lease be assured your comments will be included in a monthly Customer Care report... which is distributed to senior management for internal review. I am confident necessary corrections will be made.

Again, please accept my heartfelt apology on behalf of the entire Continental Airlines team for the level of service you experienced. I hope you will not rely solely on this incident when forming your opinion of our overall service. The agent's actions you described is not reflective of the level of service we usually offer.

So only time will tell which policy will go into effect once the merger is complete later this year.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration insists it will not revise its policy on allowing passengers to photograph and videotape the checkpoint areas, even though many screeners act as if it is a violation of federal law.


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New York Cop Arrests News Videographer On Baseless Charge

A Suffolk County police sergeant with more than 30 years on the force proved to have a blatant disregard for basic First Amendment rights when he arrested a news videographer Friday.

Phil Datz, who works for Stringer News Service in New York, was standing across the street, videotaping the tail end of a police chase that ended in a crash when the sergeant stormed up to him and ordered him to “go away.”

Datz was attempting to be cooperative, asking where he could stand, but the cop insisted he just leave the area because it was an “active scene.”

Meanwhile, citizens without cameras were walking through the area without harassment.

Datz ended up moving a block away, but the cop drove up to him and arrested him on a charge of obstruction of governmental administration.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and there’s nothing you can hold over my head,” the sergeant tells the reporter.

Tony Ryan, owner of Stringer News, told the Long Island Press that this is the third time in three years that one of his videographers has been arrested.

The Suffolk County Police Department maintains a Facebook page that is mostly comprised of surveillance video of suspects caught in the act of crimes.

Here's betting they won't add the above video to that page.

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Second Video Emerges Of Hot-Tempered Canton Police Officer

A second dash cam video has emerged showing Canton police officer Daniel Harless overreacting to finding a gun in a man's car.

The video is from July 29, 2010, exactly one year ago today.

Like the video that emerged earlier this month (second half of story), Harless can be heard threatening to kill the driver because of the gun that was found.

Unlike the last video, it is not clear whether the driver had a concealed weapons permit.

But the one thing that is clear is that Harless has a very hot temper and does nothing to deescalate a potential violent situation.

Here is just a small sample of what Harless told the man he pulled over.

"Do not move a muscle or I will put you in the grave."

"I’ll shoot you in the face and I’ll go to sleep tonight."

The first video to emerge has prompted gun advocate groups to call for Harless' resignation.

Canton residents also created a Facebook page demanding his removal.

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Lawyer Detained For Photography Files Lawsuit

Allan Horwitz said he snapped a photo of a woman at a baseball game because she resembled a female associate.

He even sent the photo to his associate.

Security guards and stadium officials confronted Horwitz as he was walking out the stadium, calling him a “pervert” and “deviant” for taking the photo.

He was detained for ten minutes where he was ordered to show his photos and identification.

Horwitz, an attorney who sits on the Pennsylvania Board of Dentistry, is now suing.

The incident took place July 2010 at a Harrisburg Senators baseball game in Pennsylvania, according to The Patriot-News.

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Chilling Video Captures Man's Cries For Help As He Is Tased And Beaten To Death


Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia, kept calling for his father as police beat and tased him repeatedly.

But his father, a retired Orange County sheriff’s deputy, was not around.

It wasn't until after Thomas slipped into a coma and was hospitalized with multiple injures that his father saw him.

And by then, it was too late. Thomas never recovered. The 160-pound man died five days after his run-in with Fullerton police.

Now investigators are looking for witnesses as to what took place the night of July 5 when police responded to reports of someone breaking into cars.

So far, one video has surfaced, that doesn’t show much of what took place, but does allow us to hear Thomas’ cries for help as well as the reaction from witnesses.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Thomas began struggling when officers attempted to search him.

His father said his son was probably off his medication.

 "When I first walked into the hospital, I looked at what his mother described as my son ... I didn't recognize him," Thomas said. "This is cold-blooded, aggravated murder."

Hopefully there are more videos out there.



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Longtime Rabble-Rouser Files Suit Alleging Violation Of Photography Rights

A man with a long history of filing lawsuits filed a suit against the Boston Police Department this month, accusing them of violating his rights to take pictures.

Max Strahan, who has gone by Richard Max Strahan in previous suits against various government agencies – and has been dubbed “Mad Max” by some media entities – describes an incredulous story between him and an off-duty officer named Kenisha Stewart.

In 2008, Strahan was taking pictures of a crane truck working on a sidewalk near Boston Common when he inadvertently photographed Stewart, according to the suit.

Stewart then ordered him to delete the photo, accusing him of violating the state’s wiretapping laws.

First of all, a still photograph does not record audio, so there is no remote chance it could have violated the wiretapping law.

And second of all, it is only a violation of the state’s wiretapping law if you "secretly" record somebody without their consent.

So even if he was openly videotaping the crane instead of photographing it, it would not be a violation of the state’s wiretapping law.

Nevertheless, Stewart kept demanding he delete the photo and Strahan kept photographing her before running off with Stewart giving chase.

Strahan then dipped into a pizzeria where he ordered a couple of slices, before Stewart caught up to him and began radioing for back-up as she stood outside, peering at him through the pizzeria’s window.

So Strahan gulped down his slices and continued running.

This is how he explains it in his lawsuit:

Strahan panicked, and fled the pizza shop.  As he fled, he heard Stewart asking other police for assistance in intercepting him and holding him until she arrived.  He ran around the corner to the Boston Common AMC cinema complex on Tremont Street, at which point, a BPD employee, defendant James Rowley (“Rowley”) rammed him with his bicycle, and grabbed him firmly by the shoulder, screaming at Strahan that he was under arrest.  He held onto him until Stewart arrived, and then she explained to Rowley what happened, asserting she did not arrest Strahan on her own because she did not have her badge or gun. 

Stewart again ordered Strahan to destroy his pictures or be arrested.  Rowley then yelled at Strahan to do as Stewart said, or else he would hurt him and arrest him in order to back up Stewart.  Strahan remained immobilized while more BPD arrived on the scene (the John Doe defendants).  Strahan screamed to let him go, but Stewart and Rowley told him he was being detained for disorderly conduct.  Other BPD officers threatened to beat Strahan and to arrest him unless he destroyed his photographs of Stewart.  One defendant with whom Strahan had had a previous encounter (identified as “John Doe Motorcycle”), stated to Strahan that if he did not destroy the pictures immediately, he was going to “beat your ass,” while grabbing his gun.

Another BPD officer (identified as “Jon Doe Sergeant”), recognized Strahan and asked him why he was not saving the whales today.

Strahan had long ago dubbed himself the “Prince of Whales” because of his efforts to save whales. He has been arrested more than 130 times in these efforts.

Strahan was also seeking a restraining order against Boston police officers, but the judge denied it on the basis that he hadn’t really been harassed since that 2008 incident, according to Courthouse News.

However, the judge ruled that the suit can proceed.

So what do you think? Has Strahan conjured a whale of a story?

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Man Photographing Grandson In Park Deemed Suspicious By Police And Media

The older, white man was seen photographing children in a public park in Idaho, so it didn’t take long for an overprotective mother to chase him off.

She then called the cops, who in turn alerted the media, who quickly posted articles warning citizens about this dangerous man lurking in the park with his camera, running off after being confronted.

It turns out, the man was just photographing his grandson.

And the only reason he left the park was because the woman was yelling at him.

So police had to redact their statement to the media.

This is how LocalNews8 originally reported the story.

Pocatello Police are warning people of a suspicious man spotted taking pictures of children at Ammon Park.

Police say parents spotted the man photographing their kids, and when they confronted him the man ran off.

He is described as an older white man with white hair and a beard. He was wearing a western-style button-down shirt and blue jeans and was driving a tan/brown van.

If anyone has information about this man, police would like them to call police dispatch at 234-6100.

And this is how they explained it afterward in the updated version.

Lt. Paul Manning said the man in question called in the Pocatello Police Department himself, saying he was at the park taking pictures of his grandson. The man also said that he did not run away, but simply walked away from a woman who had gotten very close to him and was yelling at him. Manning said police are no longer worried about the man and he is not suspicious.

The hysteria of adults photographing children in public has reached epidemic proportions.

Earlier this week, we reported on a New York man who was threatened by a mom's boyfriend, then warned by cops not to take photos of the woman's kid, even though it was never proven that he had taken photos of her kid.

And before that, a pair of photographers were told they were not allowed to photograph children swimming in the frog pond at Boston Common, which Boston Common later apologized for on its Facebook page.

And earlier this year, New Jersey lawmakers tried to pass a law that would have made it illegal to photograph children in public without parental consent.

Last year in the United Kingdom, a man was accused of pedophilia for photographing his son in a mall.

In 2008, a UK man was called a "pervert" for photographing his own kids in a park.

If parents are so worried about pedophiles, then they should look within their own families or circle of friends, not the stranger with the camera.

According to Wikipedia, which always cites their research:

Offenders are more likely to be relatives or acquaintances of their victim than strangers.[98] A 2006–2007 Idaho study of 430 cases found that 82% of juvenile sex offenders were known to the victims (acquaintances 46% or relatives 36%).[99][100]

We have to accept the fact that kids are part of society. If you take them out in public, there's a chance they might be photographed. Just as any adult might be photographed.

The real issue is how these parents become aggressive towards photographers as we have seen.

I'm not a parent but I know some parents speak boldly about what they would do if they caught somebody photographing their kid.

I can assure them that I would not back down if confronted. I guarantee that. I'll even wait for the cops to get there while videotaping the whole interaction.

But I do try to avoid photographing kids for this reason. And frankly, unless it's a good photojournalistic photo (or if I'm with family and friends), I have no desire to photograph  kids anyway.

But I will also not be the one to run away if confronted by one of these self-righteous parents.

And I doubt I'm alone.

So only time will tell before one of these parents gets arrested for assault.

Below is a screenshot of the LocalNews8 story in case they also remove it from their site.


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Canadian Cop "Accidentally" Deletes Video After Confusing Camera For Gun


A Toronto police officer was in fear of his life when he snatched a woman’s camera, thinking it was a weapon “disguised as a camera.”

In the process of trying to determine if it was not a gun, Yevgen Kravchenko “accidentally” deleted a video.

The video, it turns out, was of him dragging a woman from an abortion clinic.

The woman he dragged out had gone inside the clinic to harass other woman from getting an abortion (or if you believe police, was physically blocking the entrance, preventing women from entering).

According to Life Site News (an anti-abortion site):

Alissa Golob of Campaign Life Coalition had filmed the arrest of pro-life witness Mary Wagner at the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic on December 23, 2010, after Wagner entered the facility to encourage women to keep their babies.

Golob had tried to convince the officers not to become complicit in abortion by carrying out the arrest, but she says one of them became angry, refused to identify himself, and afterwards temporarily seized her camera.

The report, obtained by LifeSiteNews, says Kravchenko told the investigators that “he took the camera and examined it to ensure that it was a camera and not a weapon disguised as a camera.”

“While viewing the video he pressed some buttons and accidentally deleted the footage without any intention to do so,” the report adds, noting that he “was not familiar with that model.”

Golob filed a complaint against the officer in February. And after a five-month investigation, police told her that Kravchenko committed “misconduct” but not “discreditable conduct.”

But no matter where you stand on the abortion issue, it is obvious Kravchenko has lost all credibility as an officer.

P.S. The camera in the above photo is not the camera in question, just something from Tech Blog I've been dying to post.

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Foul-Mouthed Man Arrested For "Swearing In A Park" In Surreal Video


It took police nearly ten minutes to arrest a man for "swearing in a park," even though that is considered free speech, according to a couple of fairly recent court cases.

The incident occurred in Hidden Beach in Minneapolis, which was once a renowned nude beach and is still is known for it's laid-back and unpretentious party atmosphere.

However, park police apparently do not tolerate swearing, which prompted them to attempt to arrest the man in the above video.

The foul-mouthed man did not want to be arrested, so he grabbed his cooler and attempted to walk away with a pair of cops blocking his path.

At one point, the two cops wrestled the man to the ground, but the man still managed to get back on his feet and attempt to walk away.

So after more cops are called to the scene, three cops manage to control him.

Meanwhile, a woman is arrested on unknown charges and the man holding the camera annoying keeps reminding the cops that they're going to end up on Facebook and Youtube, while holding the camera in the vertical position (you need to hold the phone sideways for horizontal videos with no black lines).

It's a pretty surreal video and looks like something you would see on Reno 911.


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Man Furious At Cops For Photographing Him In Compromising Position


Jared Medeiros claims he was confronted by gangbangers who snatched his phone and tossed it into a gutter.

Police say he was just drunk.

Either way, he ended up with half his body down the gutter and his feet sticking into the air.

He remained like that for 40 minutes until police came. And one of them snapped the above photo before firefighters rescued him.

Now the California man is furious at Ceres police for taking the photo and releasing it to the media last week.

"I don't understand why Ceres Police would sit there and take pictures," he told a local Fox affiliate. "That kind of pisses me off."

Police said he never told them anything about any gang members and firefighters said his injuries were not consistent with an attack.

Ceres Police Sgt. Jose Berber said they don't release pictures of crime victims, but added that Jared never told them he was attacked. He refused treatment at the scene and still hasn't filed a police report, Berber added.

"Since it's a public document and he is an adult I went ahead and released his name," Sgt. Berber said. "If we would have known from that day he was a victim of crime, we would never have released the photo or his name."

Firefighters examined Jared at the scene and didn't see any signs of injuries from an attack, authorities said.

Jared's wife told CBS13 on Friday that he was highly intoxicated during the incident, which Jared denied Saturday.

It doesn't appear he ever retreived his phone.

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