Back in 1992, photojournalist Hyungwon Kang was the only Korean-speaking photographer employed with the LA Times. So when the riots broke out after the infamous Rodney King verdict, he was sent to cover things in Koreatown.
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The above video was recorded by Shawn Nee for Discarted, a blog that fights for photographers’ rights to shoot in public locations. It shows Nee getting into a verbal exchange with a police officer over whether or not he can legally photograph the officer.
Opinion over this video — created in February but just released yesterday — is extremely divided. Photography blogger Thomas Hawk thanks Nee for “continuing to fight for photographer’s rights”:
Our ability as citizens to document the police is extremely important. Historically, citizen photography has been instrumental in documenting police abuse cases from Rodney King to the recent shooting death of Oscar Grant. To wear a badge and a gun in our society is a privilege and ought to only be afforded to those willing to enforce actual laws and not intimidate citizens by making up illegal photography rules of their own.
On the other hand, comments left in various places regarding the video argue that Nee was intentionally provoking the officer, “stirring the pot” for the purpose of producing this video. A commenter at the LAist writes,
Who is harassing who in this video? Clearly, the guy taking the video wanted this to happen. He had a video camera set up, to video himself taking picture of an officer making a traffic stop? The cop tells him to stop at the beginning, and that the the guy on the bike is making him nervous. The officer is making a traffic stop. Lord knows how tense a traffic stop can be. Then you have this kid pull up behind up, and stop, and start taking pictures.
What are your thoughts on this video?