ACLU Sues L.A. Sheriff’s Department for Harassing Photographers

The ACLU of Southern California has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and several of its deputies, claiming that they unlawfully harassed, detained, and searched photographers simply because they were taking pictures. The suit asks the court to instruct the Sheriff’s Department to stop detaining citizens on the basis of photography, and also seeks damages. ACLU attorney Peter Bibring tells the LA Times,

Photography is not a crime. It’s protected 1st Amendment expression. It violates the Constitution’s core protections for sheriff’s deputies to detain and search people who are doing nothing wrong. To single them out for such treatment while they’re pursuing a constitutionally protected activity is doubly wrong.

One of the confrontations cited by the lawsuit was captured on camera, and can be seen here. The Los Angeles Times notes that similar lawsuits have been filed in other states as well. Earlier this year the Long Beach police department came under fire after it came to light that officers were instructed to be on the lookout for photos with “no apparent aesthetic value”.

ACLU sues Sheriff’s Department, alleges photographers were harassed [Los Angeles Times]

Thanks for the tip, Marc!

  • Anonymous

    That video is ridiculously hilarious. I expect this kind of behavior living in a podunk town in the middle of Texas, but LA metro? What kind of officer runs around assuming everyone is a terrorist? You’d never have time to deal with real issues in society if you’re always chasing Homeland Security’s golden goose of bomb-laden terrorists.

    He needs to get a day job and quit fantasizing about his “big bust.”

  • Daniel Hoherd

    Freedom and justice for all!

  • Bryan Mordt

    Well said.

  • Christopher L. Jackson

    according to, The department of homeland security has conditioned police officers of all kinds to think that photographers are to be considered terrorists. you know, the evil boogeymen who are photographing for evil plots and such

  • Anonymous

    A police officer isn’t trained to ascertain aesthetic value, besides, people can take beautiful pictures of ugly, rusted hulks of metal.  Then there’s the idea that terrorists somehow need to take their own photos.

  • James

    Google Earth is a terrorist organization.

  • Ozzie

    Don’t dare put a camera on a tripod and photograph Long Beach at night!