Journalists Sue Government After Military Security Seizes Cameras And Deletes Photos Of Publicly-Visible Structures

from the abusive-powers-gorging-on-self-induced-paranoia dept

Photography is the new "driving while black." Not that the original "driving while black" has actually vanished, what with New York City making "walking while black" the equivalent of reasonable suspicion, but now people of all races, even those normally somewhat immune to harassment, can join in on the "fun" of low-level oppression.

Two members of the Toledo (OH) Blade found themselves being screwed with by military security while taking photographs of stuff in plain sight. (via Poynter)

Mr. Linkhorn and Ms. Fraser were in Lima covering a Ford Motor Co. news conference at the automaker’s plant there. Afterward, they went to shoot photos of businesses in the area for future use, including the tank plant, which is also known as the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center.

The reporters were at the entry portions of the plant, in an area where no fence or gate restricted access, according to the complaint. They did not pass a guard hut, which is about 30 feet from Buckeye Road.
The Lima, OH tank plant is well known and has been photographed before. The company makes no secret about what it manufactures, having placed this right in front of its plant.


But because all things, even photography of visible structures, inevitably lead to terrorism, security at the Lima plant decided to step in and stop the two Blade employees from gathering any more "intel."
Blade reporter Tyrel Linkhorn and photographer Jetta Fraser were detained March 28 by military security outside the plant and had cameras confiscated and pictures deleted.
This alone would step outside the boundaries set by the Constitution, but the security officers went even further, harassing the photographer by making various comments about her (perceived) lack of femininity, including referring to her using masculine pronouns and offering to "go under her bra."

Now, because those in charge of "protecting" the plant from photography of visible "assets" were unable to restrain themselves, a long list of names linked to the military contractor have been named in a civil rights lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims Ms. Fraser and Mr. Linkhorn's First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights were deprived, as were their rights under the First Amendment Privacy Protection Act.

"At all material times, Plaintiffs Fraser and Linkhorn were present in places that were open to the public and in which Plaintiffs had a lawful right to be," the lawsuit states. "At all material times, Plaintiffs Fraser and Linkhorn were engaged in fully lawful and constitutionally protected conduct, observing and photographing subjects that were and are open to public view and that Plaintiffs had full legal and constitutional rights to observe and photograph."
As is noted in the lawsuit, everything photographed could be seen from a public road. You can see satellite photography of the plant via Google Maps, not to mention closer looks via Street View. None of this has been redacted by government request. Details on buildings, including interior structures, are listed in a 1984 "Historic American Engineering Record" produced and made public by the contractor itself. Much of what's contained is now outdated, but what's included in this public report was current as of 1980, four years prior to its release.

An image search for "Lima Army Tank Plant" brings up a host of current photos, many of which show the inside of the building, something that would be vastly more sensitive than anything obtained by a photographer located outside the boundaries of the plant itself.

Despite all of this info being readily available, plant security allegedly named the following as the impetus for its seizure of the camera and deletion of photos.
Ms. Fraser said that an officer told her that taking pictures of the plant’s power supply that is visible from the street raised the “suspicion of terrorism.”
Much like the DHS and its useless Fusion Centers, everyone in the military-industrial complex (along with the intelligence community in general) is buying into the lie that photographing visible structures is "terrorism." If these publicly-viewable buildings pose so much of a threat simply by being observed, maybe security officers should stop harassing photographers and throw a few tarps over the sensitive structures or something.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    Are these "guards" paranoid, or do they just like bullying people?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Vel the Enigmatic, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:44pm

    But, but, but-!

    How would they know where to go to work if they threw tarps over it?!

    Oh, right, GPS. Because we all know said tarps would be to hide the embarrassment they are to the people, making we as a people look like a bunch of crazy morons than we already look to the rest of the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Baron von Robber, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    But Your Honor, they were stealing their souls!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:47pm

    Re:

    Hey, what's the point of having authority if you don't get to throw your weight around and harass the lesser people every so often? /s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:50pm

    "An image search for "Lima Army Tank Plant" brings up a host of current photos"


    NOOOOOOOO don't say that, don't give them ideas !!! Next up will be DMCA takedown notices and strong-arming Google to remove all copies worldwide a la Cindy Garcia.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    "Are these "guards" paranoid, or do they just like bullying people?"

    I like your comment but I want to pick option A and option B, 'or' just doesn't do them justice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Shawn (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    With the presence of terrorist activity these security guards are going to need a MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle). It's long overdue and this incident just highlights the fact.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Re:

    All right, replace 'or' with 'and/or' :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 1:59pm

    Re:

    Why would they slum it, when they can borrow a fully armed tank?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Vidiot (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    Field trip!

    Anyone up for a mass photo shoot? (Call it a "workshop".) Let's pick a time, and meet on Buckeye Road in Lima... and shoot whatever we can see from there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Paul Renault (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    It's really difficult to really delete data from Flash RAM.

    I hope they undeleted the images and then printed them out so they could include them in their court filings.

    Heh.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Mitch Rapp, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    Those 2 aren't mutually exclusive

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 3:01pm

    Re:

    @ #1

    yes and yes

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 4:07pm

    Finally have something to do this weekend.

    I knew nothing about this plant prior to this bit of news.

    Now I will go out of my way to learn everything I can about them, their employees, their product, their affiliations and what they eat for lunch.

    What a couple of idiot personnel. Lets now shine a huge spotlight on this plant and everything it does due to these security guards acting so dumb.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Felix Atagong (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 4:21pm

    all female terrorists look like men

    Quote: "the security officers went even further, harassing the photographer by making various comments about her (perceived) lack of femininity"

    I suppose that every citizen will be on the lookout, now that is has been made clear that women who don't look like Dolly Parton are probably terrorists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 6:48pm

    OK, another moron put in security position. What's the story?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Kronomex, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 7:02pm

    What's the betting that they'll settle quietly, with the now obligatory "confidentiality clauses", and hope it all goes away.
    And in closing just let misquote a line or two from a song: Tanks for the memories. Of photos no longer seen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 8:30pm

    national security

    many nations go to incredible manic efforts in the name of national security, like how the nsa want you emil, the greeks will jail you if you photograph any airplane, the fear of th ignorant of the image stealing power of photos

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 9:44pm

    You know, nothing makes ME more suspicious of possible terrorists...

    ...than people breaking their oaths. After all, if you can lie to your God, what else can you do?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 6:21am

    This is standard operating procedures for everything military and falls under the concept of "Force Protection". I was detained for taking a picture of the main gate of a US military installation in South Korea. The picture was only the installation sign post. I was told that pictures are not necessarily forbidden, but prior permission is required.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 6:47am

    "Publicly-Visible Structure"

    I'm hoping that one day Scribd might be a "Publicly-Visible Structure" like DocumentCloud.

    For the benefit of the other visually-impaired Techdirt readers, I'll post the original PDF download link.

    http://www.toledoblade.com/attachment/2014/04/04/Complaint-filed.pdf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    About 10 years ago we never had private security guards in Canada, like say from companies like Garda. Now they are fucking everywhere, went to walk in the woods behind a university while a province-wide student strike. Not all students decided to strike, still, since we were not in the buildings, but in totally public small rocky roads outside me and my girlfriend were told to get out in 5 minutes or they would call the cops.

    Also when you visit an ER these days, there's more fucking Garda wannabe-cops who didn't pass academy after the mandatory 3 years of college we have in this province to keep the morons out of the police force, so they had to settle for security guard, than nurses or doctors, probably by 10:1 ratio. If the goal is keeping out would be sick people without a GP (too common around here) who get outraged at the wait time, I think it might work (I let a simple bronchitis turn into pneumonia before showing up at the ER last year, I got prompt treatment, but all this to say that the wave of security guards everywhere, the worst example I can give is your regular meathead tough guy with a black SECURITY in the back suit walking around in a supermarket, yeah, a supermarket. Only in that one have I ever seen one but it made me sure to never go there again.

    Thankfully they are not authorized to carry any weapons, which I think is not the case in many US states.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Fushta (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 6:17am

    Re:

    ...viewed Joint Systems Manufacturing Center on Google maps...now on government watch list, no-fly list, etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    kitsune361, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 2:51pm

    Funny, I found just the solution to this problem...

    Last week, another blog I follow had just the thing for this sort of issue:

    http://hackaday.com/2014/03/27/riotnas-mobile-storage-for-street-photography/

    Basically it is a portable wireless access point and mass storage device powered by a battery and concealed within a small bag/purse. Then they make use of a phone app that constantly mirrors the photo directory on your phone.

    Some people in the comments have apparently built a similar system using some of the SD cards with built in wireless to give this functionality to digital cameras.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Field trip!

    Pft. That's a same-day road trip for me. It isn't even that interesting a structure. The security idiots, I mean guards, were just bored because no one local cares what's built there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    kP (profile), Mar 19th, 2015 @ 6:35am

    Re:

    Why must we choose?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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