Civil Rights

Sliding toward totalitarianism

The Independent, Dec 3/09 Jerome Taylor: I was questioned over my harmless snapshot

I was on the South Bank of the Thames trying to compose a shot of the Houses of Parliament last week when two police officers stopped me. . .
For the next 10 minutes I was questioned about my evening and asked to give my height, name, address and ethnicity – all of which was recorded in a form that will now be held at the nearest police station for the next year. The form explained why I had been stopped: “Using a camera and tripod next to Westminster Bridge,” it read.

Such is our fear of terrorism that photographing our seat of power is now regarded as a potentially subversive act. . .

Good luck to the next hapless tourist who dares to whip out a tripod near a famous London landmark. If you do, I suggest you make yourself a T-shirt explaining your intentions very clearly. I’m opting for: “I’m not a terrorist. I’m a photographer.”

The Guardian, Dec 11/09, How my camera made me a terror suspect

It felt like a minor terror alert. Four security guards were watching me, whispering into microphones on their collars. A plainclothes police officer had just covered my camera lens, mentioned the words “hostile reconnaissance” and told me I would be followed around the city if I moved.

Two uniformed officers were on their way to stop and search me under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, he said. Special Branch, the police counter-terrorism unit linked to the secret services, had been informed.

It had taken less than two minutes from the first click of my camera. My subject was the Gherkin, an iconic London landmark photographed hundreds of times a day and, as it turned out, the ideal venue to test claims from a growing number of photographers claiming they cannot take a picture in public without being harassed under anti-terrorist laws. . .

The Guardian, Dec 8/09, Police stop church photographer under terrorism powers

One of the country’s leading architectural photographers was apprehended by City of London police under terrorism laws today while photographing the 300-year old spire of Sir Christopher Wren’s Christ Church for a personal project.

Grant Smith, who has 25 years experience documenting buildings by Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, was stopped by a squad of seven officers who pulled up in three cars and a riot van and searched his belongings under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows police to stop and search anyone without need for suspicion in a designated area. . .

Amateur Photographer
, Dec 10/09, ITN Film Crew Stopped While Covering Photographer Story:

An ITN film crew covering a story about a photographer who was stopped while taking innocent photos in central London were themselves quizzed while filming.

London Tonight reporter Marcus Powell was stopped by police in the City who told him that filming was not allowed.

The incident, yesterday morning, occurred while the crew were attempting to film a piece about Grant Smith who was searched by police after taking pictures for a project on churches 24 hours earlier. . .

BoingBoing, Nov 30/09 BBC Photographer prevented from shooting St. Paul’s because he might be “al Qaeda operative”

. . . Terrorism is about magnifying one mediagenic act of violence into one hundred billion acts of terrorized authoritarian idiocy. There were two al Qaeda operatives at St Paul’s that day: the cop and her sidekick, who were about Osama bin Laden’s business in London all day long. . .

Categories: Civil Rights, Justice

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