‘It is Illegal to Take Exterior Pictures of Public Buildings’ – Incorrect Assertion by many US Police

This is America, not Amerika, right?  A
nation built on liberty and freedom.  It is our heritage, it is
what we are taught, it is what we treasure, and it is even what we fight
and die for.

So how can we understand, let alone excuse,
the un-American (and happily completely wrong) claims by police and
security guards, all around the country, who try and prevent ordinary
American citizens from taking photos of public buildings and other
structures – buildings that are widely photographed, which can be seen
in Google Streetview, and which even proudly show their own photos on
their own websites?  (The picture illustrating this article – of
the HUD building in DC – is one which a security guard told the
photographer was illegal to take.)

Shouldn't all police instinctively think
'Hey, what's with restricting the taking of photos – this isn't the
former Soviet Union'?  But, no, instead of that, why do so many
police bully, hassle, harass, and even assault photographers, telling
them they are not allowed to take photos, and in some cases deleting the
photos off the camera?  Most of all, why are they doing this when
there is no law authorizing them to do so, and indeed in most cases,
there are operational guidelines reminding them that taking photos is
permissible and legal?

Here's an

excellent article on the topic
.  If you click through their
links, you'll also come to the

delightful story at the top of this page
about how a Union Station
security guard interrupted and stopped the filming of a television
interview with an Amtrak official – the subject of the interrupted
interview was the official explaining that it was legal and permitted
for people to take pictures at Union Station!

Back to my original question – not only how
can we accept/excuse the gross unAmerican actions of people who are
professionally required to know better, but how can we also accept the
passive empowerment of such actions by their supervisors and superiors? 
Read the part of the article about the police officer who tackled Jerome
Vorus to the ground, seized his camera and deleted the images on it. 
An audio recording was being made of the incident (but obviously no
photos!).  An airports authority investigation was inconclusive
(!!!) about whether Vorus was tackled or his pictures deleted.

This guy's subsequent attempt to photograph
a traffic stop resulted in him being detained for 'illegally' filming
the interior of a police car from 20 feet away.  There is no such
prohibition on the statute books, but the police officers' commander
said the policemen acted appropriately because the mere act of taking
photos 'escalates the situation'.

So taking photos – while legal – also
'escalates the situation' even when the photographer is not part of the
situation and 20' away?  And that then makes it acceptable for the
photographer to be hassled by the police?  That is absolutely not
the American way – why are the people charged with protecting our
liberties now the people most aggressively – and unlawfully – infringing
on them and curtailing them?

1 thought on “‘It is Illegal to Take Exterior Pictures of Public Buildings’ – Incorrect Assertion by many US Police”

  1. Every time someone attempts to take away our rights, especially when there is no legal basis for them to do so, and under the guise of “protecting us,” it is yet another confirmation that the terrorists have won.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top

Free Weekly Emailed Newsletter

Usually weekly, since 2001, we publish a roundup of travel and travel related technology developments, and often a feature article too.

You’ll stay up to date with the latest and greatest (and cautioned about the worst) developments.  You’ll get information to help you choose and become a better informed traveler and consumer, how to best use new technologies, and at times, will learn of things that might entertain, amuse, annoy or even outrage you.

We’re very politically incorrect and love to point out the unrebutted hypocrisies and unfairnesses out there.

This is all entirely free (but you’re welcome to voluntarily contribute!), and should you wish to, easy to cancel.

We’re not about to spam you any which way and as you can see, we don’t ask for any information except your email address and how often you want to receive our newsletters.

Newsletter Signup - Welcome!

Thanks for choosing to receive our newsletters.  We hope you’ll enjoy them and become a long-term reader, and maybe on occasion, add comments and thoughts of your own to the newsletters and articles we publish.

We’ll send you a confirmation email some time in the next few days to confirm your email address, and when you reply to that, you’ll then be on the list.

All the very best for now, and welcome to the growing “Travel Insider family”.