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Re: MTA training (Re: Called A ''Terrorist'' By A T/O)

Posted by Brighton Private on Wed Dec 12 12:55:41 2007, in response to Re: MTA training (Re: Called A ''Terrorist'' By A T/O), posted by Terrapin Station on Wed Dec 12 12:27:26 2007.

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Correct. There are lots of things that are legal but, in context, may be legitimately considered suspicious.

The point that needs to be made over and over is that photography, in and of itself, isn't one of them.

In particular, photography from outside the system (which was the case in the companion thread about the NYCLU case) is even less likely to be legimitately considered suspicious because (1) distances from any potential "target" are greater, (2) the images are already all within public view and can just as readily be viewed on GoogleEarth or similar places, and (3) no element of "trespass" or "loitering" is involved.

Now -- and don't all have a stroke about this -- there are elements to railfan photography that distinguish it from, say, casual tourist photography that MIGHT legitimately lead a cop or MTA employee to ask a couple of questions: in particular its intensive and repetitive nature and its frequent focus on infrastructure and technology (such as signaling). But AT MOST that justifies a couple of polite questions from the authorities -- who by this time know damned well what railfans are and what they do. It NEVER justifies disrespect, attitude, threats, confiscation, handcuffing, and knowingly false assertions that photography is illegal.

(PS -- I realize that if the photographer were a "real" terrorist the cop isn't likely to get honest answers to any questions and that the whole police exercise is probably pointless. I'm only trying to outline the legal contours here, not opine on effective police investigative techniques.)


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