Photographers Banned for Life from Metro for Taking Pictures

It seems like every week there’s a new story of some photographer being hassled by law enforcement. Photojournalist Stretch Ledford and Carlos Miller of Photography is Not a Crime recently visited the the Miami-Dade Metrorail to ride through a few stations and see if anyone would stop them from doing non-commercial photography. They didn’t even make it to the first station.

Despite receiving assurance from Eric Muntan, Chief of Safety and Security of the metro, that non-commercial photography was perfectly fine, they still ran into a load of trouble with the private security and subsequently the Miami Police. Check out the video Miller recorded above to see what unfolded.

Here’s Ledford’s account of what happened, and here’s Miller’s.

Thanks for the tip, @stephanieldavis!

  • Paul Jubenvill

    Say you are a cop OR a civilian, and people are acting like asses. LAW aside, they are acting like asses, so treat them like asses; it's not complicated. These guys are making photographers look like asses, and we will all suffer, in the name of their (unwise method) to push for acknowledgment of photographer rights. You focus on the official law, but ignore the fact that the cops/security guards are human beings and rather notice when people are deliberately being offensive.

  • Lskdjf

    Boy R Crumb's comic was so true : ) …

  • Sam

    Thank you for the informative post. I'll never understand why people like Andrew, and more importantly the 10+ people at this Metro station feel it is ok to take away rights illegally.
    For example: “Right to bear arms” What if this right was taken away by private “security officers” that got a badge from a 6 week training course? How about officers who never took the time to learn the law?
    Apply this to any of the rights you value in the constitution.
    Our rights should not be taken away illegally by any force, Police or otherwise.

  • Thomas Tvivlaren

    You are missing a couple of very important points here.

    1) The police is delegated rights that ordinary citizens do not have and with that comes a huge (yes, huge) responsibility to not only abide to the law but also act in a respectful manner not only to citizens but also to the system they are set to uphold. “To serve and protect” used to be more than just a nice quote of police cars. That gets us to point number 2.

    2) In a free, open, democratic society the rights of the public – and that boils down to actually being able to USING the rights that comes with true, free, open democracies – are of vital interest. In the above video clip one of the safeguards of democracies, i.e. journalism, are actually denied. That should simply be horrendous to any true believer in a free society.

    The world is truly going downhill what these kinds of issues concern. What really bugs me is that many times (perhaps, most of the time) the deliberalization of our societies is undertaken by forces and powers that be claiming to DEFEND our freedom. These people are a bigger threat to our freedom than any fundamentalist grouping of so called “terrorists” could ever be.

  • Thomas Tvivlaren

    “Do these photographers have nothing better to do than to test the law and waste people's time?”

    Very interesting comment and indicative of a need to clarify the basis of our free societies.

    In free societies very much is “wasted”. Not only time but economically resources are wasted in order to uphold what we have come to terms with defines any true free society. Actually the whole idea of democracy is based not at all on democracies being “the best” but instead “the least bad”. Without the ability to question the power that we delegate by electing them on a regular basis we lose the fundaments of any true democracy.

    Habeas corpus, presumption of innocence etc are also to be considered “wasting” as to what efficiency concerns but those are the safeguards that we build our free, open societies upon. Without these pillars of freedom we simply can not consider ourselves free.

  • Thomas Tvivlaren

    Interesting way of pointing the gun on the offender instead of the criminal.

    Has it not occurred to you why, these days, actions like the ones the photographers are undertaking are happening en masse these days? It is because our freedoms are already being limited and for no other reason than promoting fearmongering.

    How many acts of terrorism is actually occurring these days in comparison to how things were just a few decades ago? When I grew up in the 70's there were numerous terrorist attacks, and actually plenty more than these days. The Baader-Meinhof group in Germany comes to mind. So does the Rote Armée Fraction etc. Still, in those days no one considered terrorism should be fought by actually limiting our freedoms…

    What you have failed to understand is that the Orwellian society is well on it's way and if for anything else the people who used to understand the meaning of true journalism are not doing even a fragment of what they should do in order to focus on these issues.

    Freedom is something well worth defending but the way to do that is not by guns, excessive force or police stating but with more transparency, upholding the constitutional rights that modern free and democratic societies used to embrace etc.

    Everyone needs to start questioning why we in this day and age consider mass-surveillance and more polices being the answer to the question “how do we protect and proliferate our free societies?”.

    Think a bit about how many people have actually paid with their lives in order for us to even be able to CHOOSE to destroy our free societies…freely. Is that a proper way to respect their memory? Do you think they would agree to the current deliberalization and that their “blood, sweat and tears” were spent on valid grounds?

  • Thomas Tvivlaren

    I see plenty of asses in the video clip. The issue being that they are the ones who should “protect and serve” forming the true problem here.

    A free society is actually about allowing people being asses. Being an ass is not illegal though…and if it were many of our so called leaders would be imprisoned.

  • marcus00

    Oh brother… This doesn't have anything to do with freedoms. If there was a law saying they weren't allowed to photograph somewhere and they did it anyway, then there would be a case for defending freedoms. The freedom to shoot was already there. They knew the metro police would give them problems for photographing there and they intentionally went in and challenged them. They were needlessly confrontational. They knew arguing with the security guards would get them nowhere, but they kept doing it. The guards continually tried to diffuse the situation by waiting for a supervisor or walking away, but they just kept pushing the point.

    This is a bunch of people challenging others ignorance and trying to make a name for themselves. They're trying to be martyrs and damaging the photographic community as a whole in the process.

  • michaelk42

    So 1st Amendment rights… aren't actually rights (freedoms)?

    To call that interpretation “novel” would be far too generous.

    The only people that were needlessly confrontational were the guards and police. But you've already made your blame-the-victim mentality quite clear.

  • marcus00

    Seriously? So this whole show was the better way to handle the situation? This was planned. They went to the metro supervisor beforehand and knew the laws going in. They were looking for a fight. How are they the “victims” here? They even went in with documentation to prove they were right. Tell me they weren't prepared and looking for this outcome.

    Is it important to stand up for what you believe in, sure. But this could have been handled in a much more productive and mature manner. Walk away and talk to someone who actually carries influence instead of taking the battle to the rent-a-cops.

  • marcus00

    Here's where the fight should be taking place (at 11:00). This is where infringements on our freedoms is taking place. If these guys want to make a name for themselves, do it in the Gulf, not some lame train station in Florida.

  • michaelk42

    The rent-a-cops brought the battle to them.

    They knew the laws before they spoke to any supervisor. They just wanted to confirm the policies.

    So the security guards acted wrongly… and so now it's the photogs fault for expecting this?

    Please, don't be stupid. I'm sorry if you abhor confrontation, but since you do maybe you should sit back and STFU and let people like these photographers fight for our rights for you.

  • michaelk42

    Now you're just playing editor.

  • marcus00

    “Don't be stupid”? Seriously?

    I don't “abhor” confrontation. I just try to choose my battles more wisely. Obviously this exchange isn't one of my best choices. There's only so far you can go when you're dealing with someone who's just looking for an argument.

    Go ahead you patriot of fine art… Save us all from the minimum wage tyrannous overlords of public transportation. We're all so very grateful for your efforts. Please supply a link to your newsletter so I can admire your hard work from the sidelines.

  • Paul Jubenvill

    i would like that.

  • Thomas Tvivlaren

    So what you are saying is that the democratic rights denied in the above clip comes with intent as a qualifier? Who then is to decide what is the correct intent? What makes you qualified to be the judge, by the way?

    The real issue here is that the journalists did exactly everything by the book and along the lines of the law as well as the intention of the law. Still THEY are the crooks…according to the upholders of the law. Failing to see that something is really amiss in this society when what is undertaken in the clip is accepted is really beyond being blind and deaf.

  • Thomas Tvivlaren

    “This was planned. They went to the metro supervisor beforehand and knew the laws going in. They were looking for a fight.”

    So? Let's assume you are right. Does that – according to the law – make any difference at all? Any lawfounded right that does not stand the test of trial (or even provocation) is worth nothing.

    Quite the contrary, it is essential in a free and open democracy to actually provoke and try the ((democratic) rights all the time. Democracy is not about thinking “what is right” but allowing “what is wrong” and, by all means, not common thinking to actually be thought.

    That is real freedom.

    That is democracy.

  • marcus00

    All I'm saying is that the security guards aren't going to budge. They think they're in the right and that's not going to change. Continuing to hound and harass them makes you a contentious asshole. They're trying to escalate the situation simply to escalate it.

    If they were really interested in doing any good, the better choice would be to simply back down and take the argument to someone who has more influence. If you think getting confrontational is the best solution, that's your choice, but I feel it's just going to create more issues than it resolves.

    Am I blind and deaf, no. In fact, I feel it's quite the opposite. I see these security guards trying to uphold the law to the best of their understanding and ability. I understand that their understanding of the law is incorrect, but I realize they aren't going to back down, so I take the fight to the next level in a civilized, respectable manner. Both parties walk away feeling better about the situation and each other and I'd get a lot more accomplished than standing their trying to get arrested.

    This is just propaganda. A call to arms. This is only productive in creating hostility.

  • Fauxtographer

    I don't know where you've been hassled taking photos, but I can tell you as a fine art photographer living in DC for the past 2 years that I have NEVER been hassled ANYWHERE in DC for shooting photographs. I am not secretive when doing it either. I'd be interested to hear where you were hassled and what you were doing because that is most certainly the exception in DC and not the rule.

  • Brendan

    Guys I question that I feel that has been overlooked here is; do the private security firm have the right to refuse you access for any reason? If so can they then have a policy refusing access to anyone filming / photographing? Yes this is a violation of your first ammendement rights however is this permitted due to the deligation of authority to these fools?

    Also is there any new legislation post 119 (you just have your dates backwards ) that restricts access to “sensitive” facilities, if so has that been tested?

    Personally I love the quote: He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security. I think it’s fitting for how far your society has fallen since 119. Terrorists win when you change your way of life.

    Also, way to go guys I think you have BALLS. However, I am suprised the cops just didn’t issue you a “move on notice” (assuming you guys have them).


  • Ak_snowline

    People this is soooo serious! In this post-9/11 world we can’t trust people to take pictures anymore. Or to make their own decisions. Just let the government tell you what is right, show them your papers, go purchase your stuff at the mall and eat your fast food. Nothing to see here….move along.

  • Intjonmiller

    No harm done? Are you serious? May you never be so violated as to be threatened with being detained as a criminal for no more offense than failing to show the authorities your papers.

    It’s a shame you didn’t stop your ignorant rant with this post. Do you always spew such ignorance? Or was this just a bad day?

    YES, the event was staged. To demonstrate a point. An important point. To make a statement. In other words to SPEAK out. Connect the dots, Paul. They staged the event to demonstrate how those in authority are abusing that authority and real, important rights granted at least in this country to every person are being denied.

    Look, the fact that you can’t grasp abstract thought doesn’t mean the guys who made the video are asses.

    Wish I could be there the day it connects for you when your own rights (perhaps not the right to take photos on a train, but some other right that you personally value; this is where the abstract thought would have helped you ahead of time) are trampled and you feel absolute outrage and, by your own standards as expressed here, make an ass of yourself.

    I would like that.

  • Paul Jubenvill

    The assertion “no harm done” applies to producing ID, not the opposite; you misread that.

    The instigators wanted to demonstrate “being violated,” so they staged the event by being obstinate with people who have a duty to maintain social order, and they got what they were looking for. There’s nothing abstract about connecting those dots.

    You “wish you could be there” to witness somebody’s misfortune — you reveal that you are motivated by hatred, and then you want to be respected for your moral opinions?

  • John Kantor

    You are the stupidest fuck on the planet – next to those dumbfuck cops.

  • Marcus

    This video isn’t hours long, it’s only minutes. Carlos kept appealing to higher authority, hoping to find someone sensible, but he didn’t. Why would anyone walk away before exhausting every possibility? Carlos went there to take photos, not to go away and write letters.

  • Marcus

    So, to summarize, when things are wrong, you duck and hide, hoping they won’t get worse, rather than stand up to make them better.