Long Beach Harbor Patrol Says Photography “Not Allowed” From Public Sidewalk

Long Beach Harbor Patrol Say No Photography From a Public Sidewalk

I just got back from shooting for a week in Los Angeles and have to say that the highlight of my trip was shooting industrial stuff down in Long Beach Harbor with Photographer David Sommars. David is an amazing photographer who regularly shoots industrial stuff around L.A. and he shared with me some of the most fantastic vantage points to shoot this sort of photography in Long Beach. David also maintains a photography related blog here.

Unfortunately our photowalk around the Port of Long Beach was not without incident. Three times we were blinted while photographing. I’ve been stopped plenty of times while legally shooting in the past. Most of the times I’ve been able to be respectful but insistent on my legal rights to shoot wherever I’m shooting. Every so often though an incident turns into a more serious altercation.

The first two times Sommars and I were stopped we were stopped by private security agents working for Securitas on behalf of BP’s Carson Refinery. They asked us not to shoot the refinery and suggested that it was a “double standard” that we’d insist on our constitutional rights to shoot in public while not honoring BP’s request that we not shoot their facility from a public sidewalk. I couldn’t quite get my arms around the “double standard” argument coming from BP. Ironically one of the shots that I took of their refinery was probably the largest United States flag I’ve ever shot. Let’s hear it for Patriotism.

The hassle from BP’s agents though didn’t really bother me all that much. We were insistent on our rights to shoot the facility and they seemed to understand that in the end there was nothing that they could do about it. Their security guard snapped photos of both of us with his camera phone (and I returned the favor of course) and then they followed us when we left in my car in order to get my license plate, but they seemed to pretty clearly understand that while they were free to ask us not to shoot the plant, it was clearly within our rights to do so.

The more disturbing incident came later when we were atop a bridge, again on a public sidewalk, shooting another plant and long exposure bridge shots. Here we were stopped by real cops this time, rather than security guards. The cops in question were from the Long Beach Harbor Patrol. Their officer explained to us that it was his job to monitor the side of the bridge that we were on while L.A.P.D. had jurisdiction over the other side of the bridge.

Basically the conversation went something like this.

Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: “I’m going to have to ask you guys to leave.”

Us: “But, why, were simply taking art photographs.”

Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: “You’re not allowed to photograph these plants.”

Us: “But we’re on a public sidewalk. What law doesn’t allow us to photograph here?”

Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: “You’ll need to come back tomorrow and get a permit if you want to shoot in the Harbor.”

Me: “I’m only down in Long Beach for tonight and won’t be able to do that.”

2nd Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer (shrugging her shoulders): Oh, well, you’re just going to have to leave. Photography is not allowed here without a permit.”

During this altercation both David and I were asked to present identification to the police. They used our IDs to run background checks on both of us.

Now personally I have no problem with the cops stopping to talk to us and check out what we were doing. I also had no problem with Securitas photographing me earlier or following me to get my license plate number. But I think that it went too far when the Long Beach Harbor Patrol ran background checks on us and I think it also went too far when they required us to leave our shoot location. As far as I’m aware there is no law which requires permits in order to shoot the Long Beach Harbor from a public sidewalk. And to kick us off of the bridge that we were legally on was not justified and violated our constitutional rights.

We repeatedly tried to argue for our right to shoot at this location for about a half an hour. The entire time the cops were insistent that we were not allowed to shoot there without a permit. David showed the cops in question photos of his on his iPhone in order to share the type of photography that we were after, but none of this seemed to matter. We were on their turf and they weren’t going to stand for that. He just kept repeatedly bringing up 911 over and over telling us that we were going to need to leave.

What bothers me even more is that this is not the first time that David (who shoots in Long Beach Harbor more regularly than I do) has been harassed by the cops there. David has had lots of previous run ins there. David told me that he’s been stopped about 10 times in the last six months while shooting in Long Beach Harbor. About half of those stops involved actual police in addition to security guards. On one occasion the cops actually handcuffed him and in another incident 4 police cars and a black SUV converged on him. He’s also had FBI agents call on him over his photography. Personally I think it’s wrong to handcuff peaceful photographers for the “crime” of photography while questioning and detaining.

And You Might See Me Tonight With an Illegal Smile

I’ve contacted the media relations department at Long Beach Harbor regarding this incident but have yet to hear back from them. I’ll post more from them once/if I do hear back.

What I am tired of though is the harassment that photographers face on a regular basis while out documenting our world. Photography is not a crime. 911 didn’t suddenly magically turn photographers into criminals. And as long as photography is not a crime, I think that cops, security guards and other authority figures should be required to live within the legal system as it now stands. Maybe some day they will pass a law that shooting Long Beach Harbor is in fact a crime. Or maybe they’ll actually pass a law that permits *are* actually required to shoot there. But until that day happens (and I’d be one vocally opposing any such rule like that) this sort of harassment ought not take place. And it’s unfortunate when it does.

Update: Art Wong from the Port of Long Beach’s Media Relations Department has contacted me and told me that he’s asking their officers for information on this incident. I will post any update from the Port of Long Beach as it becomes available.

Update 2: On Digg here: http://digg.com/travel_places/Thomas_Hawk_s_Digital_Connection_Long_Beach_Harbor_Patrol_S
< br />Update 3: The Port of Long Beach’s Assistant Director of Communications Art Wong, responds to this incident here.

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45 Comments

  1. PXLated says:

    Did either of you actually check to see if there in fact was a permit required law? You’re not real clear on that to me anyway.

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    PXLated. I contacted both the executive director from the Port and three of their media relations people yesterday asking for clarification on this policy and asking for what law would require a permit.

    David Wong from the Port has responded to me and has told me that he is investigating the incident with the Officers. I’ll report back when I hear more. I’ve asked if there is in fact any such law and if there is have asked for a citation of it. I’ll report back when I hear more from the Port.

  3. Steve Paxton says:

    This glamorized perception of cops going after photographers is just dumb. Your account almost reads like an old west novel. You were shooting near a major harbor. The police contacted you. You gave them your ID. They checked you for warrants. What did you expect is going to happen? If the cops ask for ID, it should stand to reason that they are going to check you for warrants and for anything else that pops up. Had they not checked, and you came back and done something malicious, they would be criticized the other way (and probably lost their jobs). I get the impression that you think cops get off on screwing with photographers – almost as if they akin to skater punks (remember the ever popular “skateboarding is not a crime…” catch phrase from years back?). In and of itself, photography is not a crime. Most people know that (or should know that). The circumstances around how you take the photographs can be criminal (e.g. trespassing). Private and government entities are fully within their rights to tell you what you can and can’t do on their property. A major port or harbor is no exception. It is fairly easy idea to grasp. Getting permission before hand goes a long ways when you know you are taking photographs in an area that might be viewed as sensitive.

    I have been contacted multiple times in a wide variety of photography related situations and have never been arrested, physically handcuffed, stuffed into a patrol car or detained more than a few minutes. In each case, I was not breaking the law. On several occasions I obtained permission beforehand which made it easy for me to allay concerns by the officers contacting me. If a group of photographers decides to mouth off when officers approach – they are certainly increasing the perception that they may be planning or doing something illegal. Naturally, they may find themselves being detained or held longer than had they just cooperated. If they didn’t have anything to hide or fear, why would they make a big deal out of it. Just get the dumb permit and come back. End of story. If the police overstep and violate your Rights then file a complaint. You can take even further and file a Civil Rights lawsuit. Lawyers are lined up everywhere ready file pro-bono suits. You have a variety of remedies. The average cop is not going to unnecessarily rough up a photographer just to wind up getting sued. They have families to take care of and go home to.

    If you decide to shoot photos near a military base, major port or high end industrial facility, you are probably going to get stopped. Just assume you are going to get stopped. Getting permits to film video has been common place forever – having to obtain a permit to take still photographs is headed in the same direction. It’s not a big deal. CCTV cameras are popping up everywhere and people are watching you (even if you can’t see them). Believe it or not, terrorism does factor in. Even though we have not had a major attack in years, this is still a post 9-11 world. Your last paragraph seems to disparage the importance of this (or maybe you just don’t understand it). It is widely known in the law enforcement and counter terrorism community that pre-planning is common first step before committing a major act. I think the best approach is to roll with it rather than generalizing that law enforcement has all the sudden started targeting photographers for no good reason. There are plenty of people the cops would rather go after than a couple of regular Joe citizens taking pictures of the harbor.

  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    Steve, I had no problem with the cops talking to us. What I had a problem with was them telling us that we had to leave and obtain a permit when to the best of my knowledge there is *no* law requiring permits to shoot the Harbor from a *public* sidewalk.

    If there was a law I’d not have a problem with this. But I don’t think police should simply be allowed to make up laws on their own without due process.

    It would seem to me that you are all in favor of a world where cops can just decide whatever they want based on their own judgment. Laws exist to protect us. If society deems that the Harbor should not be photographed without a permit, so be it. They can pass a law to that effect. But I am aware of no such law and as such object to being forced to stop an activity which was, again, to the best of my knowledge, perfectly legal.

    Many, many times I’ve been approached by cops and security guards asking me what’s up. I’ve never been rude to them. I’m always respectful (as was David in this case) but insistent on my rights to shoot. I’m happy to share with them my photographs and talk about what I’m doing. There’s nothing wrong with that. The cops were out of line here requiring us to leave which is why I blogged this.

  5. Thomas – having been through these types of altercations myself (including the scary one in San Antonio), I can’t tell you how pissed this makes me. Please keep fighting.

    Also, I assume you’re aware that you’re not required to produce ID for a police officer? Not unless the officer has probable cause / reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime. I realize that’s another can of worms, but I’ve skated up against that issue in my encounters as well.

    In the end I’ve always produced the ID, but this “papers please” shit really irks me and is a nice thick layer of dystopian frosting on the fascist cake that we – the cowering masses – have baked…

  6. TWIPPHOTO says:

    If you were in violation of a law, the cops should be able to quote a statute. Either you were in violation or not. If not, you should sue asking for a TRO – Temporary Restraining Order restricting the Harbor Patrol from stopping you from taking pictures of a public facility on a public sidewalk. If we don’t start taking legal action against these thugs, then they WILL continue to violate our rights. It’s time to stop bitching and start suing. I believe that Thomas has the resources to litigate. If not, there are plenty of public interest legal groups, like the ACLU which litigate cases like this daily. Let’s start suing these folks.

    I repeat – the only difference between the cops and the crooks is the crooks have been caught.

  7. Chad says:

    Sorry, but you are photographing targets. If you really have to photograph hazardous materials facilities and major infrastructure, then you have to expect to answer some questions as to what you are doing there, and why. Stop shooting photos of targets or quit whining.

  8. Thomas Hawk says:

    If you really have to photograph hazardous materials facilities and major infrastructure, then you have to expect to answer some questions as to what you are doing there, and why.

    Chad, you misunderstand my post here. I was perfectly willing to answer any and all questions regarding what I was doing. I answered several during the course of the stop.

    However, after answering their questions I felt that I should have been left alone to continue my photography rather than being forced to leave the area.

    I’m not opposed to people talking to me about my photography. I am opposed to being denied my constitutionally guaranteed rights to shoot while on public property.

  9. @ Chad: “Sorry, but you are photographing targets. If you really have to photograph hazardous materials facilities and major infrastructure, then you have to expect to answer some questions as to what you are doing there, and why. Stop shooting photos of targets or quit whining.”

    You really have to get out of the ‘target’ mentality. I’ve been visiting the USA for years and the increase in the levels of paranoia from some of the general public are staggering.

  10. Hal says:

    Cross posted from Flickr:

    You blogged an experience I had back in April of this year (link: http://thomashawk.com/2008/05/photographer-takes-pictures-at-port-of.html) when two FBI agents showed up at my door two weeks later. Since that time, I’ve returned once and have had the privilege of interacting with Long Beach Harbor Patrol. It IS very different from interacting with private security, who really don’t have any right to tell you not to shoot. When I interact with REAL cops, typically I’ll allow them to do the background check/bag search, but then they’ll let me keep shooting when I come up clean. I’ve even had real cops tell Securitas that I was in my right to keep shooting, and I’ve had real cops tell me where to find better vantage points. However, LBHP is a totally different beast. They are as uninformed and confrontational as private security when it comes to photography, but they are technically REAL cops. Their job typically is to write parking tickets to truckers and inspect shipping containers. They LOVE harassing photographers because it is something INTERESTING to do.

    I’d be happy to share some of my experiences with you sometime, but they are too lengthy to comment here.

    I’ll be moving from LA to San Francisco in March, and I’ll be up in the bay area a number of times before that. Do you suppose you would let me buy you a beer or a cup of coffee one evening in the near future?

  11. _Don says:

    Thomas,

    Keep on fighting the good fight.

    Sadly, it seems American authorities, and probably a lot of the American people are still living in fear of another 9/11. And because, after all, if you were going to target any establishment, you would stand in plain view to photograph and document it.

    I haven’t had any issue in Canada (yet). The resulting shot is fabulous. Keep on.

  12. Uniq- says:

    Another interesting food for thought,

    California has no “stop and identify” Law. How was it that we must show him our ID ?

    Just the fact hes got a gun I suppose, but doesn’t that make LBPD and LBHP hired thugs?

  13. I am an art/landscape photographer from the LA-Orange County area. Every time I go out shooting I am stopped and questioned by police. Sometimes it’s only 5 minutes but the majority of the time it is 30+ minutes where I am told I must produce identification. (one police officer told me that it was illegal for me not to produce it). I’ve never been arrested in my life, never gotten a ticket (except parking), not even a single official warning but yet, everytime I must endure the questioning and what almost borders on verbal assault by police officers. Now that last statement probably has you rolling your eyes by now, you think I’m just one of those guys trying to make a scene. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a fairly average looking natural born citizen with no criminal record but even after they have this information I am questioned, requestioned and badgered time and again. I’ve been accused of being a terrorist, being on drugs, trying to cause a problem, you name it they throw it at me. The entire time I am treated like a criminal and in an unprofessional manner. I am completely obedient, perform every action immediately and exactly as they request. I am professional and offer them explanations, examples of my work and a business card. All I want to do is do something I enjoy in peace. I do not feel that I should have to justify my actions on a public sidewalk when I am the only one that is targeted (photographer). It’s very obtrusive when you may have this happen multiple times in one day. Several times when I went out shooting around town, I was stopped by multiple police officers and multiple security guards. If each time you are delayed 15 – 60 minutes then this is excessive.

    There are always other people around when I’m photographing. They are not stopped or questioned. Actually many times it is on major streets with lots of traffic. Any one of those people could be covertly photographing or videoing the entire area and they would never know. Even Google maps has a street view of the area where you and Dave were:

    Google Maps street view of location

    This needs to stop and people need to be made aware that photography is not a crime. It is not suspicious, nor odd. It is actually one of the most popular hobbies and professions in the world.

  14. Phares says:

    LBPD and the city administration in general are some of the biggest jerkwads in the county.

  15. Wow, dude that is totally way cool.

    jess
    http://www.anonymity.at.tc

  16. Pancakes says:

    Great post! I had a similar run in with some over zealous port security personnel early in the year. My girlfriend, cousin and I took a walk across the bridge and ended up down by the port. My cousin being a photographer was shooting casually throughout the day when we were eventually stopped by the fuzz who proceeded to interrogate us about where we lived, where we worked, and a bunch of other “none of your damn business” type of questions. We tried to explain that we were just shooting in the name of art and interest but they started to get fairly aggressive with their questioning at which point we asked if we could actually leave the interrogation.

    “There are plenty of people the cops would rather go after than a couple of regular Joe citizens taking pictures of the harbor”

    well, it sounds as though this happens more than some might suggest. Are we “whining” about it? I don’t think so. I think when you start to experience unnecessary force/harassment by law enforcement for no other reason than looking suspicious(we were all wearing black, and, um, of Asian decent)you question why the fcuk these guys are getting paid for what they do. Is everyone with a camera a threat? Do they teach cops logic at the police academy?

    How much authority are we giving these types of law enforcement officials? What can we reasonably expect from these folk? Are they the last line of defense from us and another 9/11? What rights do they have over the citizens that they are there to “protect”?

  17. David says:

    Here is a link (there are others, Google it) to a “Photographer’s Rights” page, including a PDF you can print out. Maybe something to keep with you to show the cops or whoever. PDF

  18. J. Acai says:

    The edge of the slippery slope of fear mongering. 9/11 didn’t change the laws. Public land is public land and permits are an end around on freedom.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Tom, I live in Long Beach and have working at the Exxon refinery in Torrance. The LB cop is full of it. I have friends that work on patrol. If you post the cops name, I will follow up with my district council member and the watch commander to make sure Homeland Security isn’t overstepping their reach. You won’t get anywhere with the port-they couldn’t care less and if it was up to them, they would not care at all.

  20. Kevin says:

    everyone email wong@polb.com to let him know you’re coming to long beach port to shoot non-commercial photography.

  21. Anonymous says:

    It’s driven by BP.

    I took pictures in Long Beach in December 2001. BP security (it was Pinkerton at the time) ripped right on us the minute we stopped the car. They informed us we weren’t allowed to photograph the facilities; we told them we were on public property. They clearly didn’t care. Not only that, they were demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that they would fuck up any further attempts at photography.

    That’s when they insisted that we surrender our film.

    I told them “no” and my buddy got nervous. Both Pinkertons fingered their guns. They insisted on seeing our identification and I said “are you officers of the law?” and they said “we’re officers of BP.” I said “I have no oath of fealty to BP” and turned around.

    The Pinkertons took down our license plate number as we left the parking lot. Five minutes later we were pulled over by tire-squealing, lights-flashing Long Beach cops – two of them. five more appeared within ten minutes. Seven cars. Seven.

    The Long Beach cops themselves were actually pretty pissed off… at the Pinkertons. We were polite and easy-going with them; the Pinkertons had told them we were “Potential terrorist suspects” (two white kids and an asian girl with medium format cameras?) The cops said “look – we know this is a pain in the ass, but it would make things a whole lot easier for us if you’d surrender your film – FOR NOW – and come pick it up in the morning. We won’t touch it, we promise.” My buddy was freaked the fuck out so he ripped the 220 right out the back of his Mamiya. The cops, satisfied, never even assumed that maybe I had a camera too. They let us go. My buddy’s still pissed at me for causing the row with the Pinkertons.

    Amusing side-note: The Long Beach cops told us that part of the hassle is that they were now required to report all potential “terrorist-related activity” to the FBI. My buddy called a friend’s brother who was a field agent to check and see if we had fresh, shiny new FBI files. As it turns out, since both of us grew up in Los Alamos, NM, we’d had them for quite a while. But the Asian girl popped one for the very first time that night.

  22. Eric in SF says:

    I have to say that Thomas’ inability or unwillingness to actually bring legal action against these people is lowering my opinion of him. It’s been clear for YEARS now, Thomas, that blogging about these encounters is more about therapy for you than actually achieving results.

    You are playing a game. The rules of the game are clear: the only way to effect change in the USA is through the courts. Blogging can’t effect change because it doesn’t have the same reach as traditional media. Don’t let the Bay Area bubble get to you – I promise the majority people in Alabama or Indiana or Iowa have never heard of blogging or even care.

    I think your amazing energy and drive when it comes to these issues have the potential to do exponentially more good if you redirect your energies to a legal strategy.

  23. Thomas Hawk says:

    Eric, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I have the financial resources presently to pursue legal action on my own.

    That said, I’d welcome any pro bono legal support that anyone would like to give me in terms of pursuing remedy through the legal system or if a lawyer felt that a case were worth pursuing and would indeed pursue the legal channels if I had the resources.

    I do think that blog posts have impact though. Several places where I’ve been hassled in the past have not hassled me when I’ve returned there to shoot again.

    I’d suspect that there might be more sensitivity towards the rights of photographers in Long Beach after this. But who knows, maybe I’m wrong.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The behavior of the Long Beach Police was unacceptable. I agree with you in that the officers were out of line in their ejecting of you from the bridge. It’d be interesting to see of the local paper decides to do a story.

  25. Anonymous says:

    So what! you didnt get arrested your equipment did not get confiscated. The Cops wanted to find out what you were up to nothing more GET OVER IT.

  26. Spokker says:

    I’m a bit disturbed at the comments like this one:

    “I am a fairly average looking natural born citizen with no criminal record but even after they have this information I am questioned, requestioned and badgered time and again.”

    It’s like it’s being implied that someone who does fit whatever the description of a terrorist is shouldn’t be allowed to take photos as freely as the average looking white guy is.

    As person who fits the American stereotypical image of a terrorist (towel head Muslim am I right lol???) should be allowed to take as many goddamn pictures of the port as he or she wants. It’s like if you wear a turban you aren’t allowed to have a career in photography the way people carry on.

  27. Anonymous says:

    A permit is only required in some areas of California and elsewhere, for large scale photography or movies involving crews, trucks, and sophisticated equipment. It is NEVER required for simply taking photos.

    Moreover you cannot be asked for identification without a warrant and you do not have to explain yourself or what you were doing. To put it in more straightforward terms, American law is based on the idea that no one can be stopped on the street without reasonable cause that they have committed a crime and further they cannot be asked to identify themselves without that cause either. Since taking photos is NOT a crime, there was NO reasonable cause.

  28. With the security officers acosting you on th PUBLIC sidewalk..seemss to me if anyone was out of line, it was the persons behind the badge! Rip the film out of my camera(s?? Hell NO!!

  29. someone always complains says:

    Another view about this topic. No one is ever satisfied are they?

    thedistrictweekly.com/print/features/how-theyll-blow-up-the-port-of-long- beach/ – 80k –

  30. Les Stockton says:

    These altercations are making it more and more uncomfortable for photographers (professional or otherwise) to do what they do. And I’m seriously afraid that if we do not hold our ground, that we will lose our legal rights because of them removing them from us defacto.

    I have wondered if I could find some articles (preferably from the AMA or some official source) of attorneys that have written on the subject, and even better if we could find some opinion from a federal judge.
    I do not want to give up my legal rights just because it makes some people uncomfortable.

  31. JFK says:

    When you asked for a citation of the law, you made a legal request. When the cop failed to provide it, he stopped being a cop and started being a criminal.

    Did you get his ID and phone it in to, say, your wife or someone?

    That cop belongs in jail.

  32. […] in a while. If you like images or are a camera nerd, his blog is first rate. Turns out he has had (yet another) experience with people trying to keep information secret. He has a long history of being on the front lines of […]

  33. Redmax says:

    You know, this may or may not be helpful, but if you go to these locations and tell them your scouting for a still shoot, tv show, movie or commercial… give them you business card… they’ll generally personally escort you around and show you anything you want and allow you to take pictures of whatever. And if you don’t call back with the job, or they call you and ask, you can always say that the client wanted a different property. Heck you may even get photos of areas you’d thought you’d never get to see.

    I’m certain there are execeptions to this, but you’d be amazed at how accomodating such facilities can be to potential film productions.

  34. Matt says:

    Most of you need to stop whining and seriously read up on your RIGHTS. First off, they are not Constitutional, they are amendments to the Constitution. Second, Police are given the right under Terry Vs. Ohio to perform a stop and interview of any subject deemed to be suspicious and detain them for a period of time. If you are taking pictures of a high threat level target, I would expect any good law enforcement officer to stop and ask the person why they are taking pictures and perform a thorough investigation. Think of it this way. You say you are on a public sidewalk and taking photos of private property. Well, what if someone was standing outside of your house, on the sidewalk, taking pictures of your home, kids, family, etc. Would you expect the Police to stop and ask them why and detain them for a reasonable amount of time? What if they kept coming back, should they then be ticketed or arrested? The problem here gentleman is that it seems that many of you take your RIGHTS for granted and when you are stopped for a LAWFUL reason, that’s what it is per Terry Vs Ohio, you complain and say its harassment. My suggestion is you just get the permit and take as many photos as you want, until then stop complaining about harassment and read up on your local and federal statutes and ordinances. You are right on one thing though, if you are not doing anything but taking photos, the police do have better things to do. However, if just one time they don’t stop that one person on the bridge taking a photo, it could end up in the hands of someone who wishes us harm. Think things through before you complain about your local law enforcement doing their jobs. WE are still out protecting citizens every day and trying to make our communities and country a better and safer place to live. As a side note, the majority of intelligence in this country comes from local law enforcement, not from the FBI, CIA, DEA, wiretaps, or whatever you watch on TV. My suggestion is you pick up a law book before you complain.

  35. Matt says:

    As a side note to Anonymous on January 3, 2009 at 4:48 pm, it’s not reasonable cause, it’s probable cause. I again refer you to the US Supreme Court Decision of Terry Vs Ohio which states that police and law enforcement can detain a subject for a reasonable length of time based on suspicious activity. Furthermore, a warrant is not needed to ask for ID and you would have to explain yourself, it’s actually part of Terry Vs Ohio. So before you type something, make sure it’s accurate and not something you heard from TV or your buddy. Ask someone who actually knows what they are talking about, becuase nothing annoys me more than people who think they know the law but really end up sounding like idiots.

  36. Bp Quote says:

    If you re-read the above comments, at the beginning of Long Beach Harbor Patrol Says Photography “Not Allowed” From Public Sidewalk | Thomas Hawk Digital Connection, don’t you notice that you are arguing the same point but differently (I’m referring to bp quoteand therefore contradicting the main point and making this a lot less pertinent? I will come back next Saturday to see how this has evolved.

  37. Common Sense says:

    You are obviously self centered and clueless. If you were tasked with protecting America in any way you would not be second guessing their actions or reasons for stopping you from taking the pictures. The bad guys have enough tools already think before you snap. Take up some real art and photograph something people really need to see like crimials and dopers selling drugs and follow some child molesters around to see what they are up too. Try being a productive citizen instead of wasting law enforcement officers time on something you should know better than doing in the first place…..you genius.

  38. Mark Johnson says:

    I am a 30 year photographer and all i can say is we all have a constitutional right to free expression in these united states.If any police officer decides to insert themselves between you and article one in the Bill of Rights,they are in clear violation of the highest law of the land.It is my understanding you have 6 months from the date of the incident to file a claim against the offending department for violating your rights.If the claim is rejected,you are free to file suit.Otherwise you should contact the Long Beach district attorney.If you are still not satisfied,by all means write to attorney general Jerry Brown and request a law enforcement complaint form.If they demand your film,legally,you cant refuse to hand it over but if they dont have a court order,you can nail them for theft and coercion.By the way,if they banned photography around the world trade center a few years back,would the two towers still be standing?It burns me up knowing it took 19 hijackers to kill 3000 americans and what does our heoric law enforcement do?They make photographers pay for it!I cant come up with a clearer example of barking up the wrong tree.

  39. […] in a while. If you like images or are a camera nerd, his blog is first rate. Turns out he has had (yet another) experience with people trying to keep information secret. He has a long history of being on the front lines of […]

  40. Anonymous says:

    Don’t know if you realize or not, but they are in the right in telling you to leave. The port is considered private property. Sidewalks or not, it is still private property. Next time get a permit and it will all be legal. And before you tell me it is considered public property since it is not gated or anything, does that mean I can walk on your front yard, to your side gates and take pictures of your backyard? If tehre are not gates around your property, then that means the public has ascess to it right, so anyone can walk on your drive way and just hangout there right?

    “If the Port is a department of the City of Long Beach, does it receive funding from the City?
    The Port is self-supporting financially. It does not receive tax revenues or money from the City’s general fund. Long Beach is a “landlord port,” which means that the Board of Harbor Commissioners leases Port facilities to private companies (shipping lines and cargo-handling firms) who then contract with union Longshore workers to operate the shipping terminals. These shipping terminal leases are the principal source of revenue for the Long Beach Harbor Department. The Port revenues pay the wages of Harbor Department employees, and they are reinvested in the maintenance and development of Port facilities. California tidelands laws require ports to earn and spend their revenues only on activities related to commerce, navigation, marine recreation and fisheries.”

    It is NOT tax payer funded so it doe snot have to “publc property”

  41. Anonymous says:

    I live near the port and from what I gather, as there are a few places with policies such as you encountered with the port PD and BP security, post 9-11 ports and oil refineries etc are considered “high-risk” targets so under homeland security they do not allow for random photographers, however, I do know that a permit can be applied for. From the few I know of, permits are granted on a case byt case basis and what kind of mood the cubical worker is in when they review your permit.

    From my experience it is always easier to ask for permission when I photograph something that I do not own. i.e. the old tree in an abandoned lot the owner wanted royalties after learning of the success of the photo, should of gotten a waiver beforehand. It wasn’t so much where the picture was taken it was more what the photo was of. Kind of a different situation, bottom line try to get permission if you can… or learn to run and shoot 🙂

    Keep up the great photos!

  42. Good read, thanks. Always looking out for weird and wonderful stuff to read 🙂

  43. ytm-msn.com says:

    ytm-msn.com…

  44. Unfortunately the world that we live in these days has led to such harassment from authorities. I too have had shoots for clients in the LA Harbor Gateway and the last one took six months to clear me for a background check and I finally got permission. My client had a product for me to shoot near the Vincent Thomas Bridge and even when I went to scout this location with a point and shoot camera, I was stopped and told not to. I did go through the proper channels to obtain permission through the harbor patrol office in San Pedro and I made an appointment to see whoever was in charge, they took all of my ID and off I went. It was well worth it. Another incident was taking photos of the tallest building in LA. I was just strolling along and took some snap shots from the sidewalk when a guard told me that I was on private property and that I didn’t have permission. I then acquiesced and walked across the street when the guard told me he was calling LAPD, I said fine and after a half hour, I got my shots and the police never arrived.

    I have worked in many countries and of course it is the same there in certain places, just the language is different.