Photographing the Police

Posted: September 25, 2010 in Photography, Politics

Photographing Police has become a big issue in recent years. I suspect that It’s going to continue to be a big deal in the coming years. At least until the Republicans finally get around to getting rid of that free speech clause in the constitution they seem so intent on shredding.

Moral of story: Support Reporters Sans Frontières.

I remember when “W” decided to started implementing Orwell’s vision of the ultimate fascist state. It wasn’t pretty. Smart people got out and protested. However, a big part of the protests against his vision of a corporate run police state has always been making sure that there are plenty of people photographing and/or filming the police. The cops got wise to it, and have been cracking skulls down on the practice, even as they have taken to filming protests themselves.

The TSA apparently thinks that photographers are terrorists. I of course, think that this is a load of hooey. But then I think I’m a physicist too, so there you have it. Maybe photographers are terrorists. While it’s certainly true that any terrorists worth their salt do perform reconnaissance which probably involves photography – so do tourists. We can’t be hassling or throwing in jail everyone who takes a picture of the White House, or any other public building for that matter. This is a sure sign of the downfall of America – When taking photographs becomes a crime, we’ve lost our soul as a country.

I can understand why the police want to film protests. It’s a lot easier to round up malcontents after the fact than it is to risk large scale incidents in a volatile situation where they are outnumbered. I mean, sure, they’ve got guns with rubber (and real) bullets, tear gas, water cannons, and any day now they’re going to get heat rays. However, it’s getting to the point where people who participate in lawful, peaceful protest actions are finding themselves, their businesses and their friends targeted for police investigation after the fact.

This is the sort of thing that was supposed to have ended after the hubbub in ’68; but apparently, some lessons need to be learned over and over again. There was a time when we could say that the government USED to have files on every dissident in the country. Now who knows how many people now have FBI files (or DHS files) because they had the audacity to show up to a political demonstration. We’re now right back where we were when Hoover was investigating anyone and everyone at the proverbial drop of a hat.

The anti-war/anti-globalization movement has been used to this sort of police tactics for quite some time. It’s even got a fancy name – the Miami Model. The success of this model during the FTAA protests in Miami has led various groups throughout the country to run training sessions on how to peacefully and non-violently counter this particular fist of fascism.

Now that the right wing lunatics are on the other side of the hobnailed boots of “The Man,” it’s interesting to see how they are dealing with these types of issues. One thing that I have found quite interesting is that there have not been reports of violence of any kind at “Tea Party” events. Are we seeing a kinder, gentler form of policing around protest events? My natural inclination is one of skepticism, but for all the hype about the people with guns, there haven’t been any riots surrounding these events.

I wonder if the folks on the left might do well to take some notes about how these nutjobs (and they are nutjobs) manage to pull off these protests without so much as a single anarchist infiltrating their peaceful protest. No bottles thrown, windows broken, or tear gas wafting through neighborhoods. That’s a pretty impressive record for a movement led by Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachman.



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