SF Muni Photo “Ban”

PhotoPermit: SF Muni Photo “Ban” So let’s see, it now appears, according to SFist and BoingBoing that folks are being hassled for taking photos in the Muni system in San Francisco. Wow, after being hassled personally by the police in Grand Central Terminal in New York and reading about not being able to photograph “The Bean” in Chicago, I didn’t think this one would hit so close to home.

I do have to say that I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of both BART and SF Muni and have yet to be hassled but still, this one just hits a little too close to home.

“After walking over to the group of Fare Inspectors and BART Police Officers, Officer Ryan returned to speak to me. He expressed his frustration at the situation and me by saying: “Would it have been so difficult for you to just stop taking photographs when these guys told you to stop? If you weren’t on your soapbox, I’d be out fighting real crime rather than standing around here dealing with you.” He expounded further, “Even if there is no law forbidding photography in the MUNI System, the Fare Inspectors have the right to refuse you service for any reason they choose, including taking photographs. Once they refuse you service they can swear out a citizens arrest for trespassing. I, or other officers, will book you and you’ll spend the rest of your weekend in jail. It won’t be for taking photographs, so your weekend would be ruined yet you’d never get a chance to argue the matter of taking photographs before a judge.”

Who is this Officer Ryan and is this type of intimidation really legal?

Personally I’ve also been hassled and told I couldn’t take photographs at Starbuck’s and PF Chang’s China Bistro here locally in the Bay Area.

This is not good news. Guess I’ll have to add SF Muni to my Directory of Bay Area Photo Policies. SFist is putting together a little rally on Saturday at noon to look into this story deeper.

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  1. Richard H. says:

    I fail to see by what authority anyone can prevent you from taking photos in the street or on public property – if you’re causing a nuisance or trespassing or obstructing others then maybe you can be ‘moved on’ Most rail & bus enthusiasts here in the UK are an accepted part of the public transport scene, perhaps we have more rights than we realise!!