“I’m gonna erase the memory card.”
A security guard for Acme Refining in Chicago followed through on this threat, and deleted two days’ worth of Benn Jordan’s photography.
Jordan was taking landscape photos from a public area of the South Side of Chicago when security guards rolled up on him and started getting physical.
In the video Jordan posted to YouTube called, “This crap is why I can’t make a timelapse landscape of Chicago,” you can see part of Jordan’s encounter, as Acme’s overly aggressive security guard pushes the camera phone Jordan used to film the altercation.
The security guard seizes Jordan’s camera, claiming he was on private property while threatening to call the cops, insinuating Jordan had criminal intentions. Similar to the staff at an Illinois refinery who recently tried to have a photographer arrested, this security guard seems to be treating photography as a form of terrorism.
Jordan said the aggression took place before he was able to turn on his camera phone.
“I wish I could get to my phone sooner when they initially approached me, as I definitely have grounds for assault,” Jordan said.
In the YouTube video description, Jordan says Acme has resolved the situation, and is meeting with them to get his damaged equipment replaced.
If Jordan decides to file a lawsuit for assault, battery, and destruction of property – as he legally could – Acme will learn, as all businesses should, to be careful when hiring security guards because a lawsuit can end up costing more than a security guard would ever save.
Legally, security guards do not have the right to delete photographs. And they can only ask trespassers – which Jordan wasn’t as he was standing on the sidewalk – to leave the property or have them arrested. Even a police officer cannot legally delete a person’s photos as spelled out by the U.S. Dept. of Justice in this document.
A final note on this story – Benn Jordan also happens to be an accomplished musician. Maybe this incident will inspire a song on the right to take pictures.