Audit Educates Private Security

In Columns, Nation

After more than a year since my last audit, I decided to re-engage my testing of public photography.  To educate the misinformed on what is fair game when it comes to taking pictures. On Friday, February 9, 2018, I grabbed all my cameras and headed out.  Specifically,  I needed to photograph something that someone might think I can’t take pictures of.  Military bases are good, but I did that already, (see McConnell AFB video) so some other location with sensitive operations is desired.  I know.  A government contractor.  Say, maybe Spirit AeroSystems?  They build airplanes and design avionics.  Perfect.

Spirit is surrounded by public sidewalks which make for easy video taking through their fences.  For some reason; however, the ill-informed always think you can’t take pictures of private property.  Even if your standing in public.  And the Spirit security guards were no different. As I started walking to begin my recording I saw a sign with the time and temp.  What a neat beginning, but little did I know I was already being watched.

I got maybe a 100 yards down the sidewalk when my first contact occurred.  I knew it was a security guard and he was yelling something from across the street.  I wave him over, but I still keep walking.  He’s trying to ask what I am doing as I continue to travel so I sort of reluctantly stop.  I have a camera in hand and this guy asks me what I am doing.  I told him I am walking in public taking pictures of anything I can see.  He insisted that I can’t take pictures over there and over there because it is private property.  I told him I could take pictures or video in public and it doesn’t matter if it is private property or not.  If I can see it in public it is fair game.

I also asked him how he can stop someone on a sidewalk and make demands.  I told him he has no authority here and that he should move along and leave me alone.  Then another security person snuck up on me and I told him the same thing.  I am taking pictures in public and no one is going to stop me.  So the sneaky guy gets out his radio and says something like let’s see what someone else says.  I start pointing out all the errors in their logic and when the first security guy looks at the other on the radio he has this look of total confusion.

Some guy on the other end of the radio says the guy taking pictures is ok as long as he is on the sidewalk.  Which I knew, but it is always satisfying to have others come to terms with what they might have considered as better knowledge and told otherwise.

I chastised the two about the freedoms of photography and bothering ordinary citizens in public and I defiantly continue on my way.  The video goes on for another twenty minutes without any further incident.  I really thought I would have more contacts, but the word got around and I was left alone after that.  Which is what I wanted in the first place, but people always have to put their noses where they don’t belong.

I really hate the false projection of authority and I will challenge it at every opportunity and these two tried to project theirs, but they did not realize I was an informed and knowledgeable American.  They were educated and I may test them again in the future. Overall, Spirit did respect my rights, but as far as security who comes in contact with an ordinary citizen they need to be educated further on the limits and bounds of their authority and my rights.

Jeff Payne

Blogger, Photographer, Activist
[email protected]


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