Middlesbrough cops, goons and clerks grab and detain photographer for shooting on a public street

Security goons, store-clerks and police officers detained Flickr user "i didn't mean to go to Stoke" for taking photos in the outdoor, pedestrianized area of Middlesbrough, UK:

Moments later as i walked away this goon jumped in front of me and demanded to know what i was doing. i explained that i was taking photos and it was my legal right to do so, he tried to stop me by shoulder charging me, my friend started taking photos of this, he then tried to detain us both. I refused to stand still so he grabbed my jacket and said i was breaking the law. Quickly a woman and a guy wearing BARGAIN MADNESS shirts joined in the melee and forcibly grabbed my friend and held him against his will. We were both informed that street photography was illegal in the town.

Two security guards from the nearby shopping center THE MALL came running over, we were surrounded by six hostile and aggressive security guards. They then said photographing shops was illegal and this was private land. I was angry at being grabbed by this man so i pushed him away, one of the men wearing a BARGAIN MADNESS shirt twisted my arm violently behind my back, i winced in pain and could hardly breathe in agony.

A policewomen was radioed and came over to question the two suspects ( the total detaining us had risen to seven, a large crowd had now gathered) The detaining guard released me, i asked the policewoman if my friend and i could be taken away from the six guards, she motioned us to a nearby seat and told all the security people to go. She took our details, name, address, date of birth etc. She wanted to check my camera saying it was unlawful to photograph people in public, i told her this was rubbish. we agreed to come with her and we sat in the back of a police car, she radioed back to the station to check our details, i explained to her the law regarding photography and handed over a MOO card, i asked to take her picture and she said no. We were free to go with no charge. I may press charges for unlawful detention and physical assault by the security guards, watch this space.

Link (Thanks, Dan!)


  1. Does this sort of thing happen in Washington D.C.? I don’t think so, but maybe I’m not aware of how Big Brother-ish the D.C. area has become since 911.

    At what point is London’s anti-photo BS going to piss off the natives? Don’t they have something like the ACLU in GB? Truly, this is not a culture that I should support with my money. I’ll send a note the Tourism Department and tell them I will not be coming this year. I won’t be spending my good money in a police state.

  2. …. this is insane. In some backward authoritarian state I could imagine this, but in Europe?? Every person who owns a camera in the UK needs to be out on the street photographing everything in sight. Some well directed civil disobedience is well in order to stop this madness.

  3. This bullshit is seriously pissing me off. As a profi photographer, I simply do not understand why some group of photographers in London, or anywhere in the world where this is happening, do not organize a flash mob of 50-200 people to show up where these ‘atrocities’ (no disrepect to actual human atrocities) occur and just stand around in said mob shooting everything in site. This has got to stop and has got to stop now. Damn I wish I was in England and could and would definitely organize this when it happens…

  4. This kind of thing happens here in the USA too, but the Brits seem to be taking much more heat over it (why is that?). I am going to be hiking around the city near my workplace over the summer to see what kind of trouble might pop up, I’m very curious what the climate here in the midwest is like for street photography.

    All that aside, the whole mentality of constant fear and suspicion just sounds like a euphemism for hating people outside your norm. People need to just live and let live, and by “people” I mean our governments as much as the guy next door.

  5. Have them for all it’s worth. If they have the legal “right” to film me walking round their shops then any man should be freely allowed to film their stores!

    You may also wish to file a complaint at the police station and to the IPCC against the officer involved – you are legally entitled to take photographs or film of a police officer whilst they are on duty.

  6. Does anyone know what the “MOO card” is that he referred to? MOO is such a common acronym, I can’t figure out what his “MOO card” represented.

  7. Ok..more people need to break out the Jason Bourne skillz at this point. They’ve already taken away your legal rights on the street..start busting noses.

  8. A couple of criminals blow up a couple of things, governments latch onto it and use it to keep their citizens afraid and in line. Same old, same old. As long as people are terrified of ‘outside threats’ they’ll put up with whatever crap their governments pull. Like lining the pockets of war profiteers.

    Accosting innocent photographers? Kiddie stuff. In the US we pull people off the street and send them to Gitmo.

    “In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
    And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
    And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
    And then… they came for me… And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”


  9. This is getting pretty asinine. I hope the public backlash starts gettin’ bigger. Good on him for potentially taking this to court.

    And what is up with the random street people assisting in detaining some damn photographers? Pathetic.

  10. #7 – MOO cards are little calling cards that Flickr users can get printed up based on the contents of their Flickr photo sets. I’m not sure why the photographer handed one to the police officer, though…

  11. @Adam Stanhope Moo Cards are cute and very well made business cards that usually have information on one side and photos printed on the other. Not sure why you couldn’t find it – when you search for “Moo Cards”, that company is the first hit.

  12. #11 I expect that a Moo card was about the only thing he had on him to “prove” he’s a photographer. Not that you should need to prove anything.

    Every time something like this happens, we need to keep highlighting it until police and security guards begin to understand that it’s not illegal to take photos in public places.

    The UK has more CCTV cameras per head than anywhere else in the world. We’re under surveillance pretty much everywhere we go. If “they” can take photos of us, then we’re allowed to take photos of “them”.

  13. I haven’t run into this problem yet, though I’m strictly an amateur photographer. I was in Dallas recently for the annual TLA conference and around lunch time I walked up from the convention center over to the West End District (which is kind of nice) and snapped photos of some of the restaurants down there, and the public architecture. I also wandered over to Dealey Plaza and took photos there, too, including the exterior of the entrance to the 6th Floor Museum. I also took photos outside the exterior of the Dallas Museum of Art. I’ve also taken photos all around downtown Houston (my former hometown) so far without incident. In DC in recent years I’ve been a little more circumspect, but even in 2003 I got nice photos of the Library of Congress, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, etc.

    But these kinds of stories are just crazy–especially the crowd/mob reactions, as if the cops weren’t bad enough…reminds me of the Simpson’s episode where Grandpa Simpson accused a photographer “you’re stealing my soul!!!”…my own grandmother really disliked being on videotape, would always shirk from the camera when my dad would take home movies with his shoulder-mounted VHS camera (early 1980s, mind you).

    But seriously, what gives with the self-appointed vigilantes aiding and abetting this kind of soft fascism…? pure batsh*t crazy! Needs to stop, needs to be fought back against. Best wishes to the photographer in this case.

  14. Yet, somehow, Scientologists can station dozens of people to take photos and video of protestors, even following them to their cars to photo license plates. Seems to be okay when they do it, so conclusion: if you don’t have power, you can’t use a camera.

  15. The British are forging a culture of fear from ignorance and some perverted sense of patriotism. It’s just what Orwell predicted.

    A photography demonstration would be a great idea to make a statement. It wouldn’t have to be a flash mob, per se, but rather a date and time frame where hundreds or thousands of photographers (or simply people who own cameras) converge in the same public place and overwhelm “the system” to an extent that it attracts media attention. A couple of dozen wrongful arrest lawsuits wouldn’t hurt either.

    Thinking more broadly, why not set up an open Flickr account and invite people to post their holiday snaps of London to create a massive pool of “illegal” street photography?

    Here in the states, it doesn’t seem so extreme. I’ve never heard of anyone being hassled for taking pictures on the street. In a shopping mall, yes, but that is actually private property.

    The places people have asserted their right to take photographs are airports. One of my favorite subjects is aviation photography. I’ve never had a problem, but I have heard of photographers’ encounters with pig-headed cops who insist that it’s illegal to take a photo of an aircraft from a public area. It may be illegal to park on the perimeter road or the side of a busy highway, but it’s never illegal to take the picture.

    I will spend a night in jail before I back down from a cop who tells me otherwise.

  16. In Chicago, I once tried to take a picture of a storefront — The Alley, on Clark Street, in Lakeview — and a clerk charged out of the store, claiming I wasn’t allowed to take pictures. And this was before America went insane. I gave up street photography long ago, as people move to attack you when you point a camera at them. Yet, somehow, a police camera has been freshly installed on the southwest corner of Clark and Belmont, and no one cares at all. I thought those were only for high crime areas. Funny how they are seeping onto all the corners now. Boil the frog.

  17. Hi gang, this link was originally posted in the last UK photo-blunder thread, so thanks to Gemma for making it known.

    Can all UK residents onboard PLEASE sign the following petition:


    “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to clarify the laws surrounding photography in public places.”

    Tally currently stands at: 3,597 signatures.

    Also, for shits and grins, you get an confirmation email from “10 Downing Street”, which doesn’t happen every day :)

    ..and please, please press charges.

  18. I’m not sure how the mods feel about posting links, but here are some solid resources for photographers in the USA. I think it’s valuable to educate ourselves (especially before charging out and trying to challenge misplaced authority).

    Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:

    Bert P. Krages “Photographers Rights” PDF

    Andrew Kantor’s “Legal Rights of Photographers” PDF

    All three are worth reading, and are likely to save us a lot of grief if we get into a sticky situation. Merely getting upset and stating our opinions will get us nowhere – knowing our actual rights might at least save us a bit of embarrassment.

  19. I hope the guy does file charges just so this event is on record rather than just becoming another useless anecdote.

    This whole “private property” thing is total bullshit – you’re merely renting you have no right to claim ownership of the land. I say if people aren’t living in it and the government isn’t producing top secret ray guns on it it’s fair game.

    I agree #20. Someone should start collecting areas famous for being no-photography zones. I’d be happy to photo “the Alley” (try chasing me in those platform boots, ya nose-ringed spaz) or wherever. Fuckem.

  20. somebody needs to set up a fund to help people in this situation sue the crap out of their attackers. the only way this will go away is if several high profile cases yield big payouts to victims. its sad to think that lawsuits are the only way to get things done, but then look at all the rights we enjoy here in America that were secured by the use of judicial system.

  21. Wow, another reason NEVER to go to Middlesborough – even the name sounds mediocre!
    This guy MUST SUE – the UK is becoming the same as the US. The only language understood is financial disincentive! Only if the guards risk losing their jobs because the shopping centres must pay large settlements in damages will this stop. The police complaints commission must finally notify the police that they MUST LEARN THE LAW and understand that everybody has the RIGHT to photograph on the public throughfare in the UK. A pedestrianized walking street can never be a private space. It may be leased from the local council, but it remains (and will always remain,) public space. The same is not true of a shopping centre, the owners can ban photography in their spaces, but they would be foolish to do so.

  22. I am disgusted that this is happening in my country, as if the gazzilions of CCTV cameras weren’t sufficient protection for ‘the authorities’.

    We need to arrange a mass photography event/ flash mob in Whitehall.. snapping everything.. or, perhaps just all of the CCTV cameras, or coppers.

    I’ve never been stopped myself, but it seems with recent events that it’s just a matter of time.

    No doubt the US will then add me to their ‘list’ and I won’t be allowed to go on holiday there again..

    What a state.

  23. How about the civilian who physically detained the guy, and violently wrenched his arm behind his back?!

    Anyway, nothing will become of this case because the World Has Gone Mad. This is just a small symptom, but how telling? A man is physically assaulted by several people for doing nothing more than taking a photograph in a shopping area. It wasn’t a military facility, or even a fucking red light district (if you know what I’m talking about). If you were told ten years ago this kind of thing would become commonplace in the near future, you wouldn’t believe it.

  24. He “may” press charges? Come on, no pussy-footing around. Give ’em hell! Press charges, complain to their employers, write to the newspapers, organize a mob of photographers to photograph that very same area! He already knows he’s within his rights to do so, and the police have already agreed with him. What has he got to lose?

  25. There was an incident in Seattle a couple years ago in which a guy had been taking pictures of the Ballard Locks in a public park as part of a photography class and someone turned him in as a possible terrorist because he happened to be middle eastern. Police showed up at his doorstep hours later to question him about it and a few days later was arrested for taking pictures at the same location. Ignoring the fact that the Ballard Locks are a very popular tourist attraction and people take pictures there everyday. They almost got away with it though because the Locks are a “federal” facility and there is a law on the books banning photography of government facilities.

    Makes me think of the bumperstickers you see in skate shops that say “Skateboarding is not a crime.” Need to start making T-shirts that say “Photography is not a crime” on the front and have the text of the Photographer’s rights on the back.

  26. I’m anxious to hear from a tourist treated like this. Certainly can’t be good for business in the UK for the locals to harass all that money coming in.

  27. TAKE LEGAL ACTION. You know you’re just preaching to the converted here. Why not make something positive come from this, even if it’s only wasting those fuck-wit’s time and money in a small claims court?

  28. If you are British please write to your MP to see a sea change. MP Austin Mitchell is campaigning for this and needs the support of as many MPs as possible.

    If you plan to write to your MP here is a suggested text for use on the http://www.writetothem.com website

    As you may be aware MP Austin Mitchell has tabled an early day motion to clarify the law regarding photographing in public places.
    UK law grants photographers the right to photograph in all public places without interference. However in the current state of paranoia these rights are being trampled and some photographers are even being assaulted by private (or in some cases publicly paid!) security staff. Please view the video at:

    As a photographer I would ask you to support Mr Mitchell’s motion as it seems that many police are themselves unaware of the situation as regards the law. motion viewable here

  29. The key thing to post is the PC’s number on the shoulder. Once you say “PC 123 at 17:10 in Middlesborough” the police can tie it down to an individual. It’s as good as knowing their name.

    I’d be on for a photography protest somewhere in the UK. Perhaps we ought to do some statistics first. Arrange that on such-and-such a day everyone goes to their local town and photographs the shops. Then Google map the detention pattern.

  30. I work in Washington, DC a few blocks from the Capitol building and Union Station. I can say with confidence that people are taking pictures all over the place around here freely.

    The Capitol Police lease space in our building and are in and out all the time. They are notoriously Not Amused. (I had one today visibly working out whether I was allowed to skate on the sidewalk next to my building; it’s forbidden too close to the Capitol building.) If anyone was going to stop street photographers, it would be them. And yet I have seen them helping tourists take pictures, even posing for them.

    Maybe London is special.


  31. Manny, London is special all right. It must be like Mecca for so many. But then, the grass is always greener when it rains more. The Cherry Blossoms must be quite pretty. Are they open yet?

  32. From the uniform it is clear that the retail security officer pictured above is employed, and presumably trained, by Northern Security Limited. You will find their contact details here should you wish to offer any helpful suggestions on the proper education of their personnel.

  33. these might help: documents on photog rights in the USA and the UK. Pg 2 of the UK states, “It is not infringement of copyright to take photographs of buildings . . . that are permanently situated in a public space or in premises that are open to the public.” Here’s another one for the USA which has some tips for handling confrontations.

    As always, Step 1 is to know your rights. Step 2 is to memorize the phone number of a good lawyer.

    And here are the ACLU’s guidelines to your basic rights when being stopped by the cops.

    Not that these chowderheads are terribly concerned with rights. Proving that you know yours might only make things worse for you.

    Any bets on how long it’ll be before a photographer getting tazed?

  34. MAY press charges?

    MAY? MAY?

    HAng the bastards out to dry.

    Like the Picture, three screw ups in one shot.

    1) Middlesborough

    2) Northern Rock

    3) That Security Muppet.

  35. In Canada, you can pretty much take a picture of anything in a public space. You can take a picture of anyone, too, so long as they’re part of the ‘background’ and not the primary subject. Publication of those photos depends on that aspect. See:

    That’s for public space, of course. While shopping centres haven’t been recognized as public spaces as such, they may be seen as quasi-public space, or a private space with fettered enforcement rights. Unrestricted private property rights won’t fly, even though the matter isn’t settled. See:

    Either way, public or private land, as long as the acts weren’t intrusive or disruptive to the other public, there’s no reason why this should have happened (in Canadian law, at least). I suppose you could make a post-9/11 policy argument on security grounds, but it’d be hard to make it stick for a mall, as opposed to, say, a nuclear plant or something.

  36. What about approaching the manufacturers of cameras for the funding to enforce the legality of their product? I mean, why would I buy a camera if I couldn’t use it?

    On another note for protest; how about getting a flash mob to make detailed drawings of “sensitive” locations?

  37. My question is, why didn’t the cops arrest the BARGAIN MADNESS couple for wearing offensive T-shirts in public?

  38. (As a bit of aside, an artist friend of mine was recently hauled in by mall security for making sketches of stores. Not photos, sketches. And of stores, not people. He’s planning a retaliatory Art-In. Please continue.)

  39. s sl the facts on this type of story are mostly inacurrate r ndd ttl ls s s th cs fr mch f th dtls hr. i live in middlesbrough and i can tell you that:

    1) this happened INSIDE A SHOPPING CENTER not on a public street. bargain madness (where members of staff assisted the guards according to this report) is inside the dundas arcade, middlesbrough.

    2) it IS unlawful to take photos within private property without express permission to do so.

    3) security guards do not loiter around the streets looking for photographers to hassle. they were the security guards of the shopping centre this person was taking photos in.

    4) the above photo was taken on the other side of town, nowhere near the dundas arcade. (not that this matters really, but the photo gives the impression that this is where it all took place)

    5) in the last year or so there have been about 3 or 4 bombscares in the dundas arcade, two with controlled explosions by the bomb squad if i remember correctly. the security guards have every right to be cautious when guarding private property.

  40. I used to live near Middlesbrough, can’t understand why anyone would want to take photos there in the first place ;). Just so everyone knows, it was voted the worst place in the UK to live because of a number of things including bad education, high crime, low employment and high child obesity. Not to mention the 99% charver population.

    Everything Mammal said was true also.

  41. Nice try, Mammal. Who do you work for?

    There’s a video on the link. The photographer and videographer are clearly outdoors on a public street, not inside an arcade. It’s also clearly the same location as the photo above, so it’s not “on the other side of town”.

    Your motives for deliberately lying about this incident are interesting. What are they?

  42. Mammal has no other postings that I can see.

    Suggest he is disemvoweled, as a stooge, attempting to manipulate a story for his employers.

  43. Just a couple of similar (but kind of old) links to similar stuff for those high-horsers saying this doesn’t happen in America.

    Also, there was a comment posted on one of the other BB photography posts from a US guy who was hassled 2 or 3 times. For the life of me I can’t find it, but it was quite similar.

    BB from 2005

    Joe La Rue, 2004

    This isn’t an indictment, just saying it is not just a UK thing. I wish I could find the other comment, it was pretty recent I thhink.

  44. @48/49

    Remind me when a camera was the same as a bomb?

    Even if the photographer wasn’t allowed to take photos were he was (which is fucking ridiculous, but if it’s legal, whatever), that doesn’t give the staff members, including the security guard, the right to manhandle or even touch him.

  45. if they have the money,plenty there to litigate on.

    What is needed is for very large, muscular and extremely forbidding types to costume them selves up as northen barabrians (Yokshiremen anyway) and start taking solo pictures on a teeny little camera. If these brave renta-facsists do approach him, five more giants could show up from the shadows. A shoulder to shoulder circle that no one could see inside. Have a water bottle ready to make it look like security-boy wet himself on the floor when the scrum breaks up.

  46. The law in the UK is a lot more vague, thanks to some inept anti-terror provisions that were enabled in recent years.

    But in the US, you cannot be stopped from taking any kind of photographs at all from a place the public customarily has access to. You can be asked to leave, and if you don’t leave you are trespassing, which is a crime — but the photos you’re taking are still not in themselves criminal. There’s a difference between a RULE and a LAW. Even if you continued to take pictures as you were being arrested, right up until your camera was confiscated, that’s not prohibited — and the photos themselves can’t be confiscated or deleted.

    In the UK it’s fuzzier — but again, unless I’m completely mistaken, a private security guard can’t do anything at all to you. Only a policeman can take action. UK’s got weird trespass laws too.

    Whatever country you live in, you really should take @42’s advice. Read and understand your country’s photography laws, and carry a copy of your rights with you.

  47. This comes as less of a surprise when one considers that the current Mayor of Middlesbrough was credited with bringing ‘Zero Tolerance’ policing to the UK, and was nicknamed ‘Robocop’.

    #51, Iamecks:

    To balance that, it does have a fine Victorian Town Hall, the only public Claes Oldenburg sculpture in the UK, and a new modern art museum. But I still wouldn’t want to live there.

  48. what is the law on the use and hiring of bodyguards?
    Can give ten friends a dollar each, a hat, sunglasses and a “Official Bodyguard” sticker? What are they going to when a ring of “Contracted Bodyguards” is escorting the street photographer?”

    The comical laws that permit bounty-hunting in the USA must surely permit photography bodyguards.

    Keep raising the ante, they will chicken out first

  49. Re #2: “Some well directed civil disobedience is well in order to stop this madness.”

    Since a group of photographers wouldn’t even be breaking the law, we need to call it something else. Civil obedience?

  50. Manny @38 is right –this does not happen in Washington DC. I work in a museum on the National Mall, smack between the White House and the Capitol, nestled into an endless array of Federal buildings and people are constantly taking pictures of absolutely everything in sight. Only “suspicious looking” photography such as surveillance would be questioned by anyone, and I doubt even that. There’s not much of a police presence here anyway, merely private security guards who couldn’t care less. DC metro cops just can’t be bothered.
    I also drive past the Pentagon every day –I frequently see people on Washington Blvd. overlooking the parking lot taking photos of the parking lot, and the Pentagon itself without any hassles. I’m sure they are being videotaped, but they sure aren’t being hassled!

  51. GET THEM. TAKE THEM OUT. they need to be harassed for getting in your face. there’d be blood spitting if some rental grabbed my arm with drooling aspirations of being a bobby.

  52. Responding to Jeff’s question, we do get hassled for picture-taking in DC from time to time. I’ve been questioned by US Capitol police three or four times for photographing while bearded – once, it was for taking snaps of an Army blimp that was floating overhead. But I have to admit that it’s been a number of years since they’ve apprehended me – I’m now much more careful.

  53. @54

    i dont work for anyone involved nor do i work in middlesbrough, nor do i know anyone involved. nor did i take sides in my previous post.

    if you really want to know my opinion i think the security guard is an idiot, and that the photographer was completely abused. but i also didnt see anything that happened prior to that clip. nor did you.

  54. The English courts have been reasonably sceptical of anti-terror charges, and as well the security guards are fairly clearly in the wrong here. The counter charge would be aggravated trespass, but I don’t think it would stick. The big mistake was admitting to pushing one. Still, it will take years, but I think it would be worth it to press charges, as they have to know they cant push people around. There shouldn’t be too much trouble finding people to do it pro bono.

    I’ve got around many scrapes by putting on a posh accent and threatening to sic my solicitor on security guards, most commonly for assault. It can scare them because conviction on an assault charge will be enough to disqualify them from most security jobs; if it gets around, they’ll be less willing to put themselves on the line for no reason.

  55. Mammal, you claim you didn’t take sides; fr sr, y dn’t sm t b n th sd f th trth. Points 1 & 3 in your original post are smply untrue, and 4 is a half-truth.

    Insinuating shenanigans on the part of the photographer is also not smthng n wld ssct wth n pstndng ndvdl. If you have knowledge of what occured beforehand, please state it. f nt, thn kndly kp yr cnfbltns t yrslf.

  56. hiya my name is Lawrence Windrush and i just created an account on this website just to respond to inaccurate post.

    I was outside on public land when i spotted a police officer and a security guard talking to a suspect. i had a quick look at this on my zoom lens and then walked off. The security guard chased after me saying i cannot take photos in public. He tried to detain me and radioed for back up, when another 5 guards and shop workers joined in to detain my friend and I. When the police arrived i was realised without any charge.
    The security guard who works in the Dundas arcade had no legal right to detain me.

    i hope the previous poster MAMMAL retracts his previous post.

  57. There is pure paranoia on the street. Every small wannebe-cop security guard seems to have an eye on foto takers, even here in germany. But why not take pictures when every CCTV around takes pictures of yourself? I really don’t like to be treated like a potential terrorist by just having carried a bigger camera around. What about those mobiles with cameras? Will this be the next target?
    Mad world.

  58. I’m very curious what the climate here in the midwest is like for street photography.
    Street photography is friendly here in the midwest. As long as you aren’t taking photos of sensitive military or security stuff, I don’t see that you would have a problem. I saw a girl get arrested recently and while she was being cuffed & stuffed, her boyfriend was videotaping the arresting officer. The cops didn’t care one bit; I wouldn’t be surprised if they smiled for the camera. I’m not sure what she was taken away for as I arrived while things were already in progress. She seemed combative and her boyfriend kept putting his video camera right in the cop’s face, as if they wanted a reaction of some sort, but the cops wouldn’t take the bait. It was pretty funny actually.

  59. I just remembered my favourite comedy moment with cops and cameras: it was at a demo that started getting bit hairy. There were some raised voices and maybe a bit of push and shove between cops and protesters, then someone took out his phone [which wasn’t even a camera phone], held it up to the cops and shouted: ‘this is going out live on the internet!’

    Needless to say, everything quieted down tout suite. The rumour also was he got an apology in the post. Can’t vouch for that, though.

  60. I’ve just posted a complaint on Middlesbrough council’s website on your behalf Lawrence – hope you sue these scumbags!

  61. Jupiter12, here in the north-western edge of the East (Detroit), taking pictures isn’t something anyone would care about. This city’s all about text mesgs, not pictures.

  62. The first time some guy who’s not a cop, or uniformed security officer, touches me over something like this, he’s gonna get his ass kicked for his trouble.

    Accosting you like that is assault, which in turn justifies self-defense. If they reach for your camera it becomes attempted robbery which would entitle you to subdue them. At least that would be my take, and I’d let the courts decide if I was right or not.

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

    I’m not sure what all that means, but it’s some cold-blooded shit to say to a bonehead tryin’ to take justice into his own hands right before you knee-kick the mots de faux coeurs.

  63. oh tazers ain’t bad, that photography the other day caught a chest full of flechette rounds fired by an Israeli tank

  64. What’s most frightening is the backstory –

    1) government, for whatever reason, encourages climate of fear and suspicion

    2) every jumped up little security guard sees an opportunity to relieve his boredom by hassling anyone with a camera.

    OK – so far, not earth-shattering. But I wonder if this is actually how fascism gets up to speed? Every dictator (or similarly inclined government) needs a hoard of puffed up little dragoons to do the dirty work. Seems as if there’s be plenty of applicants.

    MAMMAL – why don’t you apologize for being an idiot, and getting all your facts wrong?

  65. There is at least one “Photography is not a crime” t-shirt on Zazzle. Not to shill for it or anything. there’s probably one on Cafe Press, too.

  66. @80 – Jeff: You’ll be familiar I’m sure with 3 tall bronze glassed office buildings on Big Beaver Rd* in Southfield or Troy. They’re very distinctive. They’re also very difficult to photograph from certain public places. A good friend of mine is a professional photog. He was chased off from several locations in an apparently coordinated attempt to keep him from taking legal photos. And this was years before 9/11. The Midwest isn’t all that cool about public photography when someone’s valuable building is involved. And no, my friend isn’t Arabic, although every fifth person in the area is.

    *Not making this up

  67. In Texas, I’ve never had trouble taking photos. I’ve taken photos on a military base no questions asked!

    Then again, in Texas, they’ll quite calmly shoot you if it turns out you’re actually a danger. Not to mention everyone in the area will jump you. I’m sure this has been badly targeted vigilantism in the past, but as far as I’ve experienced it’s been A-OK.

    I was told not to take pictures of the interior of Jackson’s Estate in Nashville. I did it anyway. It’s private property, I believe, so that was my wrong-doing. But I definitely didn’t get checked or tackled when I was seen. Just a, “Hey, don’t do that.”

  68. #76 posted by Jupiter12 , April 22, 2008 12:21 PM

    Street photography is friendly here in the midwest. … I saw a girl get arrested recently and while she was being cuffed & stuffed, her boyfriend was videotaping the arresting officer. The cops didn’t care one bit; I wouldn’t be surprised if they smiled for the camera.

    I guess it depends on your local cop climate. I lived in a city rampant with corruption and my friend attempted to video tape city cops breaking up a peaceful party (only loud music, no fights) with a ridiculous amount of force.

    They grabbed him and the video camera, threw him in the cop car and threatened him in various ways all the way to the station. Along the way, they destroyed the tape. I can’t remember what they charged him with, but the point was made. Don’t film cops… especially when they are breaking rules or you might end up with a dirt nap.

  69. one of the men wearing a BARGAIN MADNESS shirt twisted my arm violently behind my back, i winced in pain and could hardly breathe in agony.

    Where I’m from that’s called ‘assault’.

  70. Skarbreeze @23, the moderator has no problem with links that have a strong relevance to the entry and subsequent discussion.

    The recent chewing-out in another thread was because that user always put links in his comments, and they always led to something vaguely related on his own website. Stuff like that is the reason for answer #3 to the first question in the moderation guidelines: “Because Boing Boing gets enough traffic to attract non-automated scams.”

    I trust I can tell the difference between your extremely useful links, and that scammer I yelled at last week.

    Doggo @82, that’s a terrible idea. Don’t do it. Sure, accosting you is wrong; but kicking anyone’s ass is assault, and puts you thoroughly in the wrong. Trying to kick a police officer’s ass will just land you in a world of trouble.

    You should look up that Bible verse so you can read it in its proper context.

    I want to point out something about Mammal: he came back and responded. He also talks like a human being, which is not something you get with astroturfers and garden-variety sloganeers. I think he was initially irate because he isn’t familiar with what you can do with a zoom lens, and so misread the story.

    Yes, he was wrong about photography being forbidden on private property. But we’ve had threads here where a dozen different commenters were insisting, loudly, that if it’s private property the owners or tenants can do anything they want, including assaulting or falsely imprisoning innocent customers whom they’d invited to enter.

    That is: it’s not an unheard-of error.

    Save your anger for the Middlesbrough police, mall security guards, and bargain-hunting wanna-bes.

  71. #86 – “Don’t film cops… especially when they are breaking rules or you might end up with a dirt nap.”

    I disagree. You should always take pictures of cops whenever possible. What would the world be like if the Rodney King camera man had run away.

    If the authorities expect the populace to behave because they’re on CCTV, the police have to realize that they’re likely to be on citizens’ cameras.

  72. I’m down with that. Always make sure the cops see you holding your phone up – let them guess.

  73. That might work in the UK. In the US, rural or inner city, you might just have a fatal accident. Cops kill.

  74. @92 Antinous,
    Come on, that’s a risk we have to take.

    And I mean that seriously. And hope, pray, or whatever gets you through your day that your assault gets logged. Fight the system!

    … I like these ‘fight’ phrases, by the way. Look forward to more of them.

    Fight the man!

  75. You have to pick your battles. I’ve gone nose to nose with federal marshals in San Francisco, but I wouldn’t do it on a dirt road in a red state.

  76. This makes me think of the book Kingdom Come by JG Ballard. The books more about racist fascism than paranoid fascism, but it touches on a lot of that mob mentality, protect the community psychopathy as this story seems to suggest.

  77. Sine last posting here I have received a letter from South Shields MP and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband reassuring me that street photography is perfectly legal.
    Trouble is, half of our police and security guards just aren’t aware of the laws, outrage needs to be transformed into action and I would hope that UK readers who are offended by the actions of some of our police will write to their MP asking him/her to support the Austin Mitchell EDM, and also sign the e-petition on the Downing Street website.

    Please follow the link to read about my own detention in South Shields for simply photography an amusement park.

  78. I have to admit that I’d be very reticent to remonstrate with a US copper.

    It’s the being armed thing.

    UK Filth* I’d be happy to shout the odds with.

    Though not Aussie Cops, as I was once stopped by a cycle cop in melbourne for not wearing a cycle helmet (big head you see) and she snapped the catch on her holster and began to draw her gun when I suggested they go find some criminals.

    Then the Victoria cops once shot a guy who was “resisting arrest”. He was found with a hole through the palm of each hand and the back of his head.

    Basically the problem with cops is that the job attracts the sort of people who are ill suited to weilding authority.

  79. Sorry – I don’t have time to read 100+ comments so if this has been said before I apologise.

    But this is serious because many UK local authorities are effectively privatising public space by handing it over to commercial interests. I.E. Liverpool’s new 60+ acre city centre development means that many of today’s public streets will become private space under the control of the private firm in charge of the huge indoor/outdoor shopping mall there. Once it is privatised then they can say “we make the rules and the rules say no photography”. You may THINK it is a public street but behind your back they will have enacted some regulations under some obscure law that lets them hand over control to private interests. Watch out for your local council doing anything like this and OBJECT!

  80. In case anyone is still reading this: Union Station in Washington DC has (just last night!) posted placards with station rules at the entrances.

    First of all, I have to give them props for posting signs, at the entrances. My sons and I are skateboarders and it really, er, “irks” me when we get hassled for violating unposted rules or rules that are posted beyond and out of sight of the hassle line.

    The photo policy is clear. In the mall part of the station, you are required to get permission in advance to use a tripod. Otherwise, they may forbid photography anywhere, at any time, for any reason. They also post an exception for the space controlled by Amtrak, summarize the Amtrak policy, and describe the borders of Amtrakistan. They do not address photography in the Metro part of the station.

    The policy in the Metro and in other transit systems is summarized HERE. (The very short version is “Okay, but no tripods. Please don’t get so engrossed that you fall onto the tracks.”) The page also has links to official documents.

    So, the tourist who videotaped me using the drinking fountain was okay, because that was on the Amtrak side of the line. The tourist who took pictures of me sitting on a bench waiting for the Red Line was golden. The tourist who videotaped me buying socks could have been stopped–according to the policy.

    No matter what the law is, in practice the man with the gun gets to make up whatever rules he likes. Skaters have an ever-flowinb spring of stories about that.


  81. TNH@89 It’s only assault if they don’t assault you first. And no, never assault a real cop, or even a rent-a-cop (with reservations).

    ‘Bout the bible verse: check it’s context in popular culture. It’s a joke, maybe not a funny one, though.

  82. #90 posted by hallpass , April 22, 2008 8:59 PM

    #86 – “Don’t film cops… especially when they are breaking rules or you might end up with a dirt nap.”

    I disagree. You should always take pictures of cops whenever possible. What would the world be like if the Rodney King camera man had run away.

    You disagree? With who, me?

    You took my words completely out of context. I was saying that is the MESSAGE the cops were trying to get across to us. It wasn’t some kind of “warning” from me to everyone here or whatever. Re-read my original post a little slower. I think we should film authorities every bit as much as they are filming our asses on a daily basic with security cams, etc.

  83. I’m off to Middlesbrough for a couple of days tomorrow. Wonder if I should take my camera…

  84. I have had a reply from Middlesbrough Council to my complaint. Good reading:

    Dear ********

    Thank you for your email regarding the treatment of an amateur photographer in Middlesbrough Town Centre.

    I have viewed the video footage provided on the http://www.flickr.com website and can advise you that the security person identified in the footage is not employed by Middlesbrough Borough Council.

    Middlesbrough Borough Council fully supports the view that it is perfectly legal for a member of the public to take photographs in a public place.

    The Council will be speaking to the Town Centre Manager to ensure that the Town Centre Shop Managers are aware of this fact and that they pass it on to any security staff that they employ.

    Ms Bernie Carr
    Corporate Complaints Co-ordinator

  85. From what I see on BB and on various news sites, it seems like nine out of ten problems with cops are actually problems with Other Security Personnel: citizen assistants, meter maids, security guards. Who, as we know, are generally given absolutely minimal training. I wonder why real cops aren’t in an uproar about it. Do you know what happens to people who practice medicine or law or even real estate without proper authorization? Why aren’t the police fighting to get security back in the hands of fully trained professionals? I’ve had a hundred or so police interactions in my life and have rarely had a problem with a real cop.

  86. I received the exact same email from Middlesbrough Council as Ebobore last night. Looks like they’ve had to create a new pro forma document for this…

  87. Interesting to read the comments of Ms Bernie Carr, since I have in the past, as a bus enthusiast, had trouble with the security guards in Middlesbrough bus station who, unless I am mistaken, ARE employed by Middlesbrough Borough Council.

    They have attempted to stop me filming buses from the road opposite, and when I have refused, have attempted to block the camera.

    I should have photographed one of them the other day when he was stood against the bus station wall having a fag right next to a notice saying “No Smoking in or near this Bus Station”!

Comments are closed.