Photographing Architecture is Still Not a Crime, Police Harrasment at 45 Fremont Street

I Was Assaulted By This Man Who Identified Himself as a Police Officer and Refused to Provide me Identification, Photography is Not a Crime

So I know that I write a lot about being harassed for my photography on the streets of San Francisco and for some this story may be getting old. I shoot every day though and at least once or twice a month have a run in with a security guard or authority figure of some sort somewhere. Typically I can resolve these episodes on my own amicably with the individual involved, but sometimes things go over the line. In the past year I’ve blogged about three of these incidents that crossed the line. One was when a security guard at One Bush was following me around the sidewalk trying to put his hand in front of my camera and not allowing me to shoot the building. Another was when the Sheriff’s Department detained me and ran what I consider an illegal background check on me merely for shooting near the train tracks in Oakland. Another was when a particular nasty altercation took place between me and a security guard who came out of 45 Fremont middle finger a’blazin’ to insist that I not shoot that building.

But today’s episode was the worst I’ve encountered so far. Ironically enough, it occurred once again outside of 45 Fremont Street. This was even after I spoke with a PR person from the Shorenstein owned property who apologized to me for my treatment and assured me that I would find a more tolerant atmosphere at that property in the future.

Today, aqui-ali (another local Flickr photographer), helveticaneue (in from out of town) and I went out to do a bit of shooting. Since Aqui had a meeting down on 2nd Street later this afternoon we decided to head that way and shoot the Transbay Terminal. 45 Fremont was in our path and we were shooting some photos of it as we were walking by. It was then that the security guard there told us that we could not shoot the building. When I explained that we were in a public area and had a right to shoot the building he insisted and called another security guard over on his radio who also tried to get us to stop taking pictures of the building. I still refused as it is my right to shoot buildings in San Francisco from a public area.

45 Fremont Security Guard and Police Officer
45 Fremont Security Guard and “Police Officer” who refused to provide identification after physically asaulting me.

It was at this point that things went from bad to worse. At this point an individual came over who identified himself as a police officer and told us to get out of the plaza, off the sidewalk and to physically stand on the asphalt in the street where the cars were driving by. When I tried to object this individual (who was significantly larger than me) assaulted me and forcibly grabbed my arm quite hard and pulled me towards the street. When I freed myself from his grip I told him that I was going to take his photograph. He told me that I could not take his photograph and that if I did that I could “watch what would happen to my camera.”

I took his photograph anyways and that is him up there at the top of the story. Once he had us physically on the asphalt in the traffic off the sidewalk I once again asked him for his identification and asked to see his badge. He refused to provide me his identification and refused to show me his badge. It is my understanding that when someone identifies themselves as a police officer that I have a right to see their identification proving this fact. This prevents anyone from falsely impersonating police officers and abusing a false authority. I asked him at least five times to see his badge and he refused. He continued to confer with the security guards at the building though.

I believe that this individual either committed an illegal act by illegally impersonating a police officer or by acting in the capacity of a police officer while refusing to provide me proof or his badge when asked. Worse, he physically assaulted me and threatened me. I’ve even got a bruise and a pretty sore arm where he grabbed me.

This should not happen just because a hobbyist decides to take photographs of a building from a public area on the streets of San Francisco. This was abuse. I do not know in what capacity this individual was working with security at 45 Fremont but they were complicit and also forced us to stand off the sidewalk on the street asphalt. helveticaneue and aqui-ali were both present and witnessed this happening as well.

Update: I just received an email back from my contact from my previous run in with 45 Fremont with The Shorenstein Company who told me that while his security guards witnessed the incident that it was actually the security guards at 50 Beale Street and *not* the Shorenstein guards that I had this problem with today. He also told me that he thinks this “policeman” is a security officer working for a tenant in that building. If anyone knows which tenant that this might be at 50 Beale I’d appreciate that information. I am also going to try and contact management of 50 Beale to hopefully work this situation out.

Update #2: Today I:

1. Filed a police report. The case has been assigned to an Officer O’Reily. I have his phone number and will be checking in with him on the progress. I also confirmed with the desk officer at the Tenderloin Police Station (the closest to my work) that if a citizen requests ID from a police officer that an officer is required to provide it. This officer also told me that it is department policy not to touch someone without first showing your badge. He told me that he did not think that this individual was a police officer and that he did not recognize him.

2. I stopped by the building and spoke with Brad Meyers, the property manager. According to Brad, the individual in the photograph as well as the security guard assisting the individual in the photograph do not work for the building. Brad told me that he believed that the individual who assaulted me worked for Bechtel but did not know his name. Brad also appologized to me for the incident and told me that photography in fact is allowed in the public park area next to 50 Beale St. He said that occasionally protocol will be to have a photographer sign a waiver to release the building from any liability should they injure themselves but that it was not protocol to force photographers into the street as had been done to me. He has put a call in with Bechtel’s security and is going to follow up with me later.

Brad also told me that Bechtel does not own the building but is a tenant.

3. I spoke today with Mike Meehan who is Vice President and Assistant General Council for Allied Barton Security Services, the company that employed the gentleman who originally requested that I not take photographs. Mike is on the East Coast and has put a call in to his West Coast office to try and determine what happened from their perspective. He is going to be in contact with me and will follow up with me on this. I asked him if he would provide me the name of the individual for my police report if he is an employee of their company and he said that he would need to take that under adviseme

Will continue to update with details as available.

Update #3:

Bechtel Letter

In response to my run in with an unidentified individual who identified himself as a police officer, assaulted me and refused to show me identification as a police officer, I received this letter from Bechtel Corporation yesterday.

I have again asked for the name of the individual who identified himself as a police officer and requested Bechtel tell me what if any disciplinary action was taken against this individual.

While Bechtel still refuses to confirm whether or not the individual who harrassed and assaulted me is an employee of theirs, it is probably fair to assume that they would not be sending an apology letter were he not. I will continue to pursue this though and am confident that I will be able to get more information with regards to this case.

Be Sociable, Share!
Loading Facebook Comments ...


  1. Carl says:

    I’d file a police report. They won’t likely take you seriously and may roundfile it right after you leave, but assault and impersonating a police officer are both crimes.

  2. Joe Reifer says:

    Next time if you are physically assaulted, I would call the police immediately, and demand to file a report while at the scene with a REAL police officer, not some pushy rent-a-cop.

    Sounds like it may be time for another photography meetup outside of 45 Fremont.

  3. Des Paroz says:

    Thomas, this is an amazing story.

    I’d certainly file a police report for assault. You have photographic ID and you have corroborating witnesses.

    I would also seek a meeting with the building owners (especially after the last altercation), and get an apology from them.

    Or you could consider filing some sort of suit against them, as their employees acted outside their legal rights in a public place.

    Hell, they can’t even assault you on their premises, let alone in a public place.

    Mate, good luck.

  4. aqui-ali says:

    I am willing to file a complaint if this guy can be identified. He was an utter jerk and was in my opinion impersonating an officer. As far as I know this is illegal.

    Anyone know who he is?

  5. Jackson says:

    If the guy works there, go back tomorrow with a cop. You have multiple witnesses to charges of assault and battery and impersonating an officer. Even if he’s deputized, then you can still file assault charges and charges for his refusal to show identification to the Office of Citizen Complaints.

    If he is an officer or deputized, let me know — I have a couple of contacts who can bring this up directly with the Police Commission.

  6. Dave Zatz says:

    File a police report.

  7. Ehm says:

    I’d reccomend filing a police report too.

  8. Anonymous says:

    A bruise and a sore arm? Get over it you pansy.

  9. by the way, the pic of the prick in question is very well taken!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Time to get fatty fired.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I have had simular problems, In my home town we have large chemical plants and they are very photogenic. The rent a cops would love to “get thier hands” on me for “security reasons”. I learned to click and move.

  12. Marc says:

    if you file a complaint with the police and it involves impersonating a police officer you can be damn sure that they take that seriously…

    If however he was a real cop, you can expect that nothing will really happen.

  13. Paul says:

    I always carry this PDF
    The Photographer’s Rights

  14. Anonymous says:

    Look at the huge mound of fat pooled underneath his face, yuck. Next time, carry a box of Krispy Kreme’s in your car for just such an emergency.

  15. Swanksalot says:

    Really, what an ass this “police” guy is.

    Also, SF seems to be a rather uptight town. Granted I don’t take as many architecture photos in a month as you take in a day, but I have only been harassed once in Chicago in my 12 years taking photos here, and it was very lackadaisical harassment at that (Boeing Corp. headquarters).

  16. Anonymous says:

    file a police report

  17. Brian Walsh says:

    This is aboslutely horrible! Personally, I think a police report should be filed. Following that, we should gather for a photography meetup outside of the building. With the report on file, any altercation will provide additional support to the initial report. It is unbelievable that this continues to happen to you at the same place.

  18. forota says:

    50 beale is the corporate headquarters for bechtel. i worked in that building for a couple of years (for another tenant in the building). bechtel’s george schulz/middle east construction connections has made that building the site of lots of (harmless but inconvenient) protests. there was visible “beefed up” private contractor-type security for a while after the start of the iraq war three years ago, i suspect you may have encountered one of those gentlemen.

    definitely file a complaint; that was needlessly aggressive if not illegal behavior from that security guard.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I seriously doubt he is a Cop, file a report right away. Impersonating a police officer is a very serious offense and it is taken as such by the police.
    If they own the sidewalk (not unheard of) they can direct you off the property (but not physically compel you, that is in fact assault). If you refuse a direct order to leave private property from a dully appointed Representative you could be arrested for trespassing, regardless of if the area remains open to others.
    Once your back on public land though (as you well know) you can happy shoot away.
    You should drop a line to a couple of the TV agencies as well. I have seen reports get very worked up being told things like they can’t shoot a building (in my case a Casino) from the street, and do a whole expose over it.

  20. Oli says:

    You take fantastic photos by the way. Good luck getting some justice.

  21. Adam Edwards says:

    This “not allowed to take pictures anywhere” precedence has got to stop. Do you think the police of the day would have stopped Van Gogh from painting a city scene?

  22. I bet they would have stopped him from cutting his ear off.

  23. Ryan Russell says:

    As an earlier commenter said, 50 Beale is Bechtel corporate headquarters. I assume the train car is still in the plaza there. I used to work there as well. They may no longer directly occupy every floor of the building, but I’d be rather surprised if they didn’t control the doors, and hence the security guards.

    Your life, of course, but I’d ideally like to see you press assault charges and file a report about him claiming to be a police officer.

  24. Brassard says:

    Too bad for that guy. He has know idea who he is dealing with. Put him in his place Thomas.

  25. Richard says:

    Definitely file a police report. Do not wait…

  26. Dave! says:

    File a police report. If this man was an officer, he should be disciplined. If not, he needs to be arrested for impersonating a police officer and for assault.

    I really think you have a duty to photographers everywhere to press charges against him.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Do you carry a cell phone?

    Next time some so-called cop assaults you (that’s when he puts you in fear of an imminent touching — he doesn’t need to lay a finger on you. The touching is battery), you break out the cell phone and say that you are going to call 911. If he advances, call. If the guy is a cop, you are helping him (right?), if he isn’t, you need to think about your safety.

    If that is Bechtel headquarters, they undoubtedly hire the same type of Blackwater semi-merc dipshits we’re used to seeing thanks to Halliburton and Co running our foreign policy. Fat boy needs to learn he’s in America, and 911 on your speed dial is one way to help his education.

  28. nepenthes says:

    Have you filed a police report yet? This is outrageous and unacceptable!
    I would`ve pulled out my cell phone right away!
    Good luck and please, do keep us informed of the outcome of it all.

  29. schwerd says:

    an observation…the title of the photo and blog post are “police” harrasment…..just to be clear….and you are, if someone reads the whole post…this IS NOT police harrassment…you yourself have said that all info you have says this guy is not a cop….to be fair, you should re-title the article…..and no one with any authority accused you of a crime, just some private security guards just don’t want you shooting their building. You were harrassed and assaulted….that’s not at issue…and you know many of us support your efforts and are keenly interested in how this plays out….but in the interest of open, fair and honest ‘journalism’ and blogging….it seems changing the title is the right thing to do….just cuz the jerk tried to impress/scare you by claiming to be a cop, doesn’t make it so. And the SFPD have a whole mess of problems that they actually have foisted on themselves….without additional false or misleading accusations.

    from a purely practical point of view…if you are going to file a police report and try to take some further action and you want police help in investigating same, it probably wouldn’t hurt to not falsely accuse the police of the act in the title of the blog post.

  30. Anonymous says:

    How interesting that the “cop” has a jacket EXACTLY the same color as the guard’s hat.

    Where did he come from? A beat cop would’ve probably come up the sidewalk. Not that undercover beat cops responding to calls seems very likely anyway.

    How long did it take him to get there? This could help pinpoint how far away he was. If an officer on foot is responding to a call it’ll take him a few minutes to get there, whereas a security supervisor could show up very quickly.

    The earpiece–do SF beat cops wear these? If they do they’re probably all alike. Comparing his earpiece to that of a real cop could be informative. I’ve never seen one of these on a real cop (I’m in San Diego) but I see them a lot on private security, especially supervisory types.

    What are SFPD’s physical fitness requirements? I doubt this lump could pass any sort of fitness test. And I can’t imagine he’s be in such sorry shape if he was regularly walking a beat.

  31. Anonymous says:


    Bechtel. That complicates things. Do undercover federal agents have the right to describe themselves as police? A garden variety rentacop certainly doesn’t, but do you think Bechtel is …um… special enough for special protection?

    Still outrageous, one way or the other.

  32. Anonymous says:

    It is very possible the man in the photos may be an off duty police officer working a second job. I’ve even seen an assistant DA from another county carrying a gun and badge on his belt working security.

  33. Josh Drvsh says:

    Get a picture of your bruises, too. Better to have someone else get them, but get them and quickly. If it’s large, i.e. bigger than a dime, then hold up a dime next to it to give a sense of proportion.

    If you’re in pain enough that your arm naturally now, falls at an angle or your shoulders are higher than normal, than take pictures of yourself holding the body position the pain directs you to hold yourself up/in.

    This is called evidence, at least the kind a responding officer will take seriously.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I seriously doubt that mound of mashed potatoes can pass a police physical. He’s got to be a rent-a-cop.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Hey, Thomas. Please keep this up and don’t let it go; people like this should not be able to lie, harass and intimidate others unchecked. Imagine all the people he has done this to in the past who knew of no recourse. Good luck it teaching this guy a lesson, and keep up the good work.

  36. Nicolai says:

    Please, don’t let this goon get away with it!

  37. Fenster says:

    I’m in Ireland but I’ve had that reaction in and around construction sites in the past where contractors haven’t been too pleased that someone was photographing their illegal work conditions.

    As everyone else has said and pretty redundantly at that, I don’t see how he could be a police officer and I do think you should be filing charges.

  38. Anonymous says:


    This post is far more effective than a police report.

    Next action, let’s get down to 50 Beale.

    A Supporter

  39. Donncha says:

    Damn, that was a bad confrontation. Thankfully I’ve never had as bad an experience as that here in Ireland.


  40. Anonymous says:

    one thing “real” cops really hate is fake cops saying they are “real” cops.

    flickr party at 45 fremont?

  41. Taxi Driver San Francisco says:

    You should absolutely file a police report on this nut-case. Anyone who is falsely impersonating a police officer is downright dangerous. Cops have a very particular authority over the general population and they are subject to review should they abuse their authority. A fake cop undermining the law and freedom. He is a criminal.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Thank your government for stirring this climate of fear and paranoia.

    The first victim of any ‘war’ is always freedon.

  43. Anonymous says:

    If people like this get away with such behaviors, more people will think they can behave that way.

    Slowly it becomes OK to do that and sooner than you can say “oh no” respect of law is replaced by respect of violence.

    From respect of violence on it’s only downhill to neo fascism

  44. Issue Spotter says:

    If you are tired of this treatment you should get organized and try to make it a public issue. This blog is great, but it alone is unlikely to cause change.

    You should document the incident. Get together your photos and writings about the confrontation so you can coherently relate it to investigators and media people. Take photographs of your injury immediately. As an earlier poster said, place a dime or other small object near your bruise to give a sense of scale.

    You should file a police report. Inform them that someone claiming to be a police officer grabbed you and physically placed you in the street when you were taking pictures of their building. While the company’s security agents have the right to exclude you from the property, which may include the sidewalk, they cannot physically force you from it. They are required to call the cops for that. Once your report is filed, call weekly to ask about progress.

    Find out who employs the man who grabbed you, and complain. Present them the police report, your photos, and demand that they discipline their man for using force. The force is the real issue here. Security professionals know the law. They guy messed with you because he thought he could get away with it. Don’t prove him right.

    Try to enlist the local press. Try the SF Weekly and Guardian. Do a some of the reporter’s leg work yourself before you meet him or her. Namely, get contact information for other photographers who met with similar harsh treatment at buildings around the city.

    If you can, protest. Get as many photographers as possible together in front of the building to wave banners and take photos. If you set it up I’ll be there.

    If you have gobs of time and money, a civil assault case is a possibility. You won’t be able to find a lawyer who works on contingency because there isn’t any pay off at the end. But if you have money to burn and want to burn it, this could be fun.

    It’s a lot to do, but these building owners’ photo policies are a pain for artsits, tourists, and local shutterbugs alike. Perhaps your campaign could convince building owners to allow us to take exterior shots from their plazas, but at the very least their guards must stop assaulting us.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Except for the mustache, dude looks like Wally from the Dilbert cartoon.

    Good luck.

  46. Randall says:

    You know what would be hysterical?

    A group of at least 10 photographers (or more if at all possible) congregating there to shoot the buildings in the area simultaneously.

    The rent-a-cops can’t stop all of them at once.

    By the way, I’ve had similar hassles in Hong Kong when shooting buildings from public spaces.

  47. Anonymous says:

    I’d carry a stun gun and use it on the fat man as soon as he touched me. Assualt is assualt and you have the right to defend yourself.

    Let’s see him take 40,000 volts!

  48. Anonymous says:

    He looks like Wilford Brimley after a bad bowl of oatmeal.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I don’t mean to put a downer on the feedback here, which is pretty unanimous that you should file a police report. But here’s my opinion: you are a complete idiot if you left the scene without calling 911, getting a real cop on the scene, and insisting on filing a report. The police are prejudiced to believe that anyone who leaves the scene of a crime is guilty of something. Innocent victims wait for help; the guilty flee. By failing to file the report instantly, before you left the scene, you have seriously weakened your position with the authorities. Any defense attorney worth his salt will tell a jury that you didn’t really believe a crime was committed and only filed a complaint after all your online friends pushed you to do it. After all, if you had thought a crime was really committed, you would have reported it immediately. The defense will use this untimeliness to suggest that you made up all the details and it was all just a misunderstanding.

    This is just nuts. Someone assaults you and you just leave, blog about it, and fritter away your opportunity to make a timely complaint? Unbelievable!!!!

  50. Anonymous says:

    if you haevn’t already, file a police report! Otherwise this all amounts to nothing.

  51. John Piercy says:

    call the cops ,, find out this so-called cops employer and press charges

    I like the idea of a SF Flickr Meetup
    very soon, wish I was closer , Id attend ,,,

    Make sure you have video footage next time ,,

    Dont let them push you around ,,

    JP from Canada

  52. Anonymous says:

    Bad bowl of oatmeal…hehe.

  53. Paul says:

    If you do not file a police report, you’re just as bad as he is. YOU are responsible for letting this continue. Impersonating a police officer is a serious offense, and so is physical harrassment.

  54. Scott Anderson says:

    UH, I have to agree – you should have called the police immediately. You’ll get a lot of support here on the blog – but you sort of blew it by not immediately calling the police.

    But, by all means, get three or four more photographers, and go back down. That way, there’s someone to photograph “The Donut Killer” manhandling you – and someone to call the police when he tries to impersonate one.

  55. Anonymous says:

    why do you keep getting targeted for harassment? do you look like a terrorist or something? middle eastern, long beard? unless you fit some sort of terrorist stereotype it does not make sense that you would get so much harassment from this.

  56. Anonymous says:

    The bell curve assures us that at least half the people we meet are of below average intelligence. This is bogus behavior on their part but I wouldn’t really let it get you down.

    In Philadelphia, I’ve been approached many times where police or private security ask me what I am doing with my camera. I tell them I’m taking pictures (duh). That is always the end of it. I’ve even been waved onto private property by the water company to get a better picture of a reservoir.

    In fact, I carry my SLR camera with me when geocaching because it provides such a good, easy to understand, cover story.

    I’ve got no problem with being approached by law enforcement. That’s their job and I am glad to see them interacting with people vs. cruising in the patrol car.

    Fight the power. Keep up the good work.

  57. Anonymous says:

    File a police report, and photograph the BRUISE, Hawk. That is money in the bank, should you choose to pursue a civil case.
    I’m just sayin’…

  58. Nathan says:

    Man, forget the police report….show up there with 100 people with camreas and have them all click away!!!! Maybe go by yourself first and draw the guy into a confrontation, then have everyone else whip our their cameras (and give the guy the finger while they are at it).

  59. Anonymous says:

    Just to add to the comments suggesting more people go down there and take pictures…

    I say start off with one person taking pictures. Let the guard get worked up a little, then point out to him one other photographer taking pictures of the event. Once he is a little more worked up, add more photographers. Keep adding photographers until you’ve got hundreds all standing around the building taking pictures.

    Hell, maybe circle the building with photographers for the fun of it.

    I wish I lived in SF, because I’d show up. Make an event of it.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like it’s time for a photoswarm. Get a dozen of your closest photographer friends to descend on the place at around lunchtime (maximize your exposure to the public). This kind of bullshit should be thrown right back at ’em. They need to brush up on their “training.”

  61. ItsJustMe says:

    Hope you file a police report. Be sure to follow up and ask what action has been taken on it.
    Just to be clear, “assault” is threatening a person. When they touch you, that’s “battery”. Be sure to get your terms right when you file the report.

  62. Anonymous says:

    This is quite common in Los Angeles, where even the LAPD will roust you for photographing a building. God forbid you try to take some video or the Post 9/11 assclowns will really take offense.

  63. tj says:

    i don’t know if anybody has mentioned this idea or not, but you should file a police report! 😉

    thanks for sharing this story. next time i’m in SF, i’ll make sure to stop by and photograph this building. even if it’s from across the street … nothing they can do there!

  64. Anonymous says:

    File a complaint with the police, ASAP. Don’t let it go stale. Impersonating an officer is serious business.

    By the way, you take amazing shots of angry people! Rich colors, great DoF… just great shots all around. My lens cap is off to you, good sir.

  65. cirrostratus says:

    Impersonating a police officer is a crime, grabbing someone off the sidewalk and forcing them into street traffic is a crime, too.

    You’ve got photos of the guy who did it, get a cop and point this cop impersonator out to him.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Bullshit – if you haven’t filed a police report – you are letting people assault citizens and impersonate police. The FIRST thing yiou should have done is taken your evidence to the DA or PD and also contact a civil attorney.

    The fact that you rushed home to blog it makes it about 1000% less credible to me.

    I hope this loser gets what he deserves – but apparently you’ll be no help seeing that it happens. Maybe he’ll push a pregnant lady off the curb next time – at least she’ll have a pair if balls to contact LE.

  67. Christophe says:

    Being a fellow photographer, I support you 200%!

    This is outrageous and you should def. file a complain to the police.

  68. Jon says:

    Good for you, Thomas, for standing up them. I definitely would have done the same.

  69. The masses are forced to use online social networks to replace their social life due to oppressive work conditions.

    The Web: Social networking searches
    Media mogul Martha Stewart is launching an online social network for women — joining other entrepreneurs who are starting similar projects and are collectively propelling social networks into the mainstream of the Internet, sources tell UPI’s The Web. The movement is becoming so pervasive that other media companies, including, with its Google Co-Op, and Yahoo! with its purchase of, are starting search engines specifically for online communities — creating veritable miniature Internets within the global Internet.
    There are even search engines, like Fun Mobility’s Connect engine, for those on the go, with mobile phones, who can’t bear to be away from their online community for more than a few minutes. By Gene Koprowski

  70. Uncle Roger says:

    Definitely file a report — especially since he either falsely claimed to be a police officer or refused to show his ID. Note that not only did he assault you, but it sounds like he put you in harms way by forcing you into the street (where you could have been hit by a car).

    You might want to print and carry a few copies of this brochure about photographer’s rights.

  71. Anonymous says:

    Are you looking to take pictures or are you looking for a fight? Blow off the grief he caused you and go have a blast taking pictures of fascinating things. Don’t give him another minute of your time. You’re giving him power over your life. Choose to move on. -Alisa

  72. Anonymous says:

    He looks like a cousin of jabba the hutt

  73. Mac Shadix says:

    Speak to them in the language that they understand. The man is employed by some large corporation. Sue them,and him, for his ilegal behavior which deprived you of your legal rights and injured you. Win or lose you will get their attention. I think a flickr swarm is the right way for the SF community to handle this. Here is something that clearly affects each of us.

  74. cliff michaels says:

    I would suggest you find an attorney and see if you have a serious enough claim to warrant a lawsuit. As an attorney, and photographer, I can assure you the individuals who detained and harrassed you had absolutely no right to do so. They – and their corporate masters – are liable to you. It may not be worth pursuing, but at least get a consultation…

  75. Anonymous says:

    >Are you looking to take pictures or
    >are you looking for a fight? Blow off
    >the grief he caused you and go have a
    >blast taking pictures of fascinating
    >things. Don’t give him another minute
    >of your time. You’re giving him power >over your life. Choose to move on.

    What awful advice. Remember: Only a small minority ever stand up to oppression. Why not join the long list of humanities finest people by standing up for your rights? You may not be standing in front of a government tank or harboring political prisoners in your basement but even the smallest acts have some weight. Be a patriot. Fight tyranny.

  76. Dude, that’s so freaky!

  77. Peter says:

    let me guess… that guy is… a former stormtrooper – turned – cop, kicked off the force after raping children repeatedly, couldn’t find work elsewhere, so he went to where all child-molesting, out-of-work, kicked-off-the-police-force, former stormtroopers go – Bechtel Security. am i right?

    Cops, man. Terrorists with badges.

  78. I’m a police dispatcher as well as a photographer and my advice is to get the non-emergency dispatch number for your local police department (though I am certain that in this case good ol 911 would have been appropriate).

    I also agree with the other commenter about calling the police right then and there. It makes it much easier for the real police to get things taken care of then reporting it after the fact.

  79. Derrell says:

    You really ought to file a police report…

  80. says:

    “Are you looking to take pictures or are you looking for a fight? Blow off the grief he caused you and go have a blast taking pictures of fascinating things. Don’t give him another minute of your time. You’re giving him power over your life. Choose to move on. -Alisa”

    This is pretty ridiculous.

    If you don’t stand up, then you are forcing someone else to have to when it happens to them. If nobody else does it then it continues to happen.

    Sometimes you have to look beyond the dictates of your immediate surroundings and work to affect the bigger picture.

    By not doing anything you are saying that you are OK with this. And if that is what you think Alissa, then I respectfully disagree with your position.

  81. Anonymous says:

    Terrible, that guy is unbelievable. In fact, when I saw the picture I remembered an incident where I was running with a group of joggers into a shopping mall on Front or Second Street in Downtown SF about two years ago. We were stopped by the same guy or at least somebody who looked just like him. He was a security guard and very annoying.

  82. phototristan says:


    1. If you had a similar problem in the exact same plaza previously, why did you go back there again? Looking for trouble?

    2. “He told me that I could not take his photograph….I took his photograph anyways”

    Why provoke him?

    3. Why was your priority not to call the police right away? Instead you reached for your camera and shot pictures and then went home and posted the pictures and story on your blog. Don’t you think that had you called the police, everyone would be better off and the guy who assaulted you could be behind bars instead of at large?

  83. Anonymous says:

    All of us have probably had run-ins with security guards (or even cops) who are on a power-trip. Regardless, why provoke them? Doing so just stoops to their level.

    I agree that the guy shouldn’t have manhandled you. Furthermore, he should have produced identification. Understandibly, you’re angry. I would be too.

    But complaining about it on your blog doesn’t solve the problem — it just makes it worse because you get other people frustrated and angry.

    Please, file a police report and start by pursuing this through the “proper channels”. Only when that don’t work is it time to escalate things.

  84. Celynnen says:

    “Bechtel. That complicates things. Do undercover federal agents have the right to describe themselves as police? A garden variety rentacop certainly doesn’t, but do you think Bechtel is …um… special enough for special protection?”

    Regardless of whether Bechtel is “special enough”, federal agents will identify themselves as federal police and will be able to read you section and code of what law they feel you are in violation of. So will your friendly policeman if he truly is a sworn officer.

    I work for the DoD just across the street from there. Next time someone harrasses you, drop me a line and I’ll come out there with *my* camera. . . it’s a felony to assault a federal employee =oD

  85. Andrea says:

    I reckon, although correct me if i am wrong…that you live in a culture where ‘fear’ and ‘suspicion’ have been perpetuated, encouraged even by an administration/government on a so-called war against terror. It doesn’t suprise me that people are paranoid about people taking photos of buildings/train tracks etc.

  86. Anonymous says:

    Get a life, all of you !!!!

  87. Roger Krueger says:

    Tristan saidQuestions:

    1. If you had a similar problem in the exact same plaza previously, why did you go back there again? Looking for trouble?

    I doubt it, and if he did, good for him. If someone is continuing to lie, threaten and bully it’s in everyone’s best interest if they’re exposed repeatedly.

    2. “He told me that I could not take his photograph….I took his photograph anyways”

    Why provoke him?

    Why give someone a break just because they’re being an unreasonable jerk? Someone asks me nicely to do something I’m pretty likely to comply. Someone starts spouting legal fiction and threatening me I figure it’s a public service to be a jerk right back, within the bounds of the law and a concern for physical safety. I haven’t always been as polite as Thomas 🙂

    3. Why was your priority not to call the police right away?

    Probably because the police are unlikely to do jack. As long as the guard is willing to perjure himself and deny he ever claimed to be a cop, deny he touched Thomas, it’s just a matter of competing, conflicting descriptions of the incident with little hard evidence. The other guard knows he d#$% well better back up his supervisor’s story. There might be a surrveillance tape, but it’s in the hands of the guard’s employer. Hit erase, claim camera malfunction.

    Instead you reached for your camera and shot pictures and then went home and posted the pictures and story on your blog. Don’t you think that had you called the police, everyone would be better off and the guy who assaulted you could be behind bars instead of at large?

    You’ve seen too many cop shows. In the real world cases this hard to prove just don’t lead to arrests that often.

    Especially since cops have a strong predisposition to believe other security professionals. Which makes some sense, 90% of the time when it’s security vs. a civilian it probably is security that’s telling the truth. Plus, I’m guessing most cops have been accused of roughing somebody up when they didn’t, so they tend to empathize from that angle too.

    But by posting it he continues to draw attention to this kind of thuggery, a valuable service. The first time it happened to me I thought I was a bad person who was breaking the law. Only through the accounts and research of others did I understand the reality of the situation.

  88. Anonymous says:

    Time for a flickr swarm!

  89. вџн says:

    Whoever came up with the idea of a photographer swarm, good thinking!

    Ever heard of Improv Everywhere?

    It sounds like one of their ‘missions.’ I don’t know if they have a S.F. chapter, but they should.

    I’m glad you got that fat lard’s picture. He made me think of Doctor “Eggman” Robotnik from the cartoon/video game series Sonic the Hedgehog.

    I hope the police identify him and that his punishment is a little cruel and unusual.

  90. Thomas – I commend you for standing up for your rights. Lying about being a police officer put me through the roof on this one. Fight it until the end- this guy should be fired and arrested.

  91. Anonymous says:

    sounds like you were on private property and they asked you to leave. You came up with attitude and now that you see it is Bechtel. with lots of money, you are now seeing green. If I had to deal with your pompus ass I would have kicked your ass to the curb too! But hey, you are getting lots of attention from this, and people looking at your pretty pictures. But I assure you, you wont get shit from this….get over yourself!

  92. Anonymous says:

    securityguy:”sounds like you were on private property and they asked you to leave. You came up with attitude and now that you see it is Bechtel. with lots of money, you are now seeing green. If I had to deal with your pompus ass I would have kicked your ass to the curb too! But hey, you are getting lots of attention from this, and people looking at your pretty pictures. But I assure you, you wont get shit from this….get over yourself!”

    Hey lardman, glad to see you finally managed to see your ugly ass on this site. Next time think twice before impersonating a police officer.

  93. Anonymous says:

    Hey lardman, now that you managed to find your way to this site, click on your picture, it’ll take you to flickr. You can see what people have to say about you.

  94. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to read about this, Thomas. I too photograph in downtown SF and was recently confronted by a security guard on California St. (?). He wanted to know what I was doing – wasn’t able to ascertain this from my equipment I guess. Apparently he was concerned that I was photographing the Lens Crafters store in front of me. I assured him that I had no interest in Lens Crafters but that didn’t keep him from hovering over me.
    Maybe the local press would be interested in your story?
    If so, the publicity might bring some awareness to photographers’ rights.

  95. hotspur says:

    Any updates? I’m curious!

  96. elinesca says:

    Yes, Thomas… updates..!
    (and whatever they are, you’re a star)

  97. Anonymous says:

    You have a big enough story and national following to go to the media, this blog page is linked to a TON of pages so it could be good for the media to tell your story and help you with investigative reporters. They may like to take a bite at this. Good luck and keep us updated

  98. Anonymous says:

    Take a good look at that guy in the picture. Take a good look at the Police that you see when you are down at the station filing your report. Now take a good look at yourself.

    Your report is going nowhere.

    He could of punched you and smashed your camera, and your report is still going nowhere.

    That guy loves the Police, The Police love that guy, neither of them care about your art or your blog. You live in America, this is America. That is America. Wake the fuck up.

    Even if you had called on a cell phone about his harassment, they still would of squashed it and let him off as a Security guard trying to do his job.

    They respect his job and you’re just a damn artist.

    If you had done something aggressively similar to him, you would be cuffed, finger-printed, fined, and maybe even jailed.

    That Wilfred Brimley-“Cocoon on steroids”-looking fascist, would of pressed full charges and sat in the Police office drinking coffee and eating doughnuts while talking to all of his new buddies at the Cop Shop, on how little hippie artist fucks like yourself don’t know how to respect authority in this post 911 Police state.

    They would be on a first name basis with each other, and I bet they would talk about current events that they felt similar about like, “George Bush is a great man”, and “We’re gonna get that Osama guy soon”, and “god Bless our troops”, blah blah bla…you get the point.

    And you’re only a photographer of buildings.

  99. Anonymous says:

    I hate to say it but it sounds like you brought this on yourself. I dont understand why you would be surprised that folks give you a hard time for taking photos. In today’s era of heightened security, threats, etc. everyone has to be extra diligent. IMHO it comes with the territory.

  100. Anonymous says:

    I’ve read several of Thomas’s accounts of harrassment. While I agree that he has been mistreated on several occaisions, I think most of the conflicts were entirely avoidable.

    Whenever a security guard approaches, Thomas immediately gets his back up and gives them attitude. He comes off like an asshole, so the security guards respond in kind.

  101. Anonymous says:

    Forget the police report. You NEED to press charges and sue this guy for assault. Even if you lose getting this guy in some very hot water is the ONLY way to teach tough guys like this a lesson.

    Anybody posting that you are a “pansy” or that you need to stop taking pictures because of “security concerns” is totally full of shit.

  102. Anonymous says:

    Forget the police report. You NEED to press charges and sue this guy for assault. Even if you lose getting this guy in some very hot water is the ONLY way to teach tough guys like this a lesson.

    Anybody posting that you are a “pansy” or that you need to stop taking pictures because of “security concerns” is totally full of shit.

  103. Johnny says:

    When are we going to have a photo meet up in front of 45 Fremont???

  104. Anonymous says:

    He couldn’t provide ID because he doesn’t really exist. Black helicopter style.

  105. wanderer says:

    I stumbled upon this article by chance. At first I though that maybe the ” officers ” were jumpy after 9/11. I do not know the building as I am from the UK.The more I read, the more I wonder if this would happen this side of the pond. I have certainly had no trouble with security whilst taking shots that could be of some use to terrorists, thieves etc.Maybe the rent-a-cops in US are slightly bolder that UK variety.

    Wishing you well. It sounds like a full scale assault by a group of photographers is on the agenda.

  106. Anonymous says:

    you think the DA has time to file your case? There are real crimes which occur in this city, as my co worker tells me, “Let it go.”

  107. Attie Heunis says:

    Sue him. Free speech suffers if good people let bad things happen!

  108. Postman Pat says:

    So, where were aqui-ali and helveticaneue during all this? Did they not capture the confrontation photograpically?

  109. Anonymous says:

    Get a tazer and be ready for Wilford Brimley the next time.

  110. Gregor Lenko says:

    I love what you do and the way you do it but sort out your site buddy, the adverts on the right hand obscure your text

  111. Rags Mahone says:

    Oh how the world must be laughing !

    So you were threatened, bullied and assaulted. Big deal. Tens of millions of people around the world are threatened and bullied by your country. However instead of then merely receiving a few bruises they are murdered, their homes destroyed, their children mutilated and their women raped and abused.

    All in the name of the same “ideal” of “freedom” that you only seem to take any interest in when it affects you personally.

    It’s a shame Americans don’t/can’t “do” irony otherwise you would realise how ridiculous you seem to the CIVILISED world.

    If you want sympathy then why not, just once, start questioning the climate of fear that your Government is creating not only abroad but, as you have now found out, in your own backyard.

    I agree that assault and impersonation of a police officer are crimes, but then again so are genocide, lying about WMDs, illegal wars, illegal sanctions, supporting dictators when it suits you, detaining innocent people without trial etc etc etc.

    Hopefully after you’ve all held hands and held a vigil on Fremont Street in support of your own rights you might make the trip out to Guantanamo Bay to see how a few bruises compare with the systematic beating and torture of people who don’t have the chance to voice their dissent or to prove their innocence.

    You may argue that as individuals you aren’t responsible for the vile, illegal actions of your Government …(most of which you aren’t aware of since your TV and Press censor so much of the news compared with countries outside the US)… but i would argue that you are being nothing more than whinging, ignorant hypocrites.

    You dish it out a whole lot worse to others, but can’t take it yourselves.

    Never mind … bullies always lose out in the end.

  112. Bill Garnett says:

    Hooray for your actions and I encourage you to follow through. Our freedoms and liberties are only guaranteed by our courage and determination to keep them.

    If you haven’t done this, I suggest you take your story to the press and see if you can interest them in your story.

    I also think you may have a civil case and you may want to see an attorney. It seems you have witnesses and other evidence, and a judgement against this type of action would protect us all.

  113. JW Dewdney says:

    How about a strongly worded letter to Bechtel suggesting that you’re prepping a lawsuit against them unless they provide the name of the individual who harrassed you? That ought to get the cockroach crawling out of the woodwork.

  114. QT Luong says:

    When I was taking pictures in front of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles
    I was also told by a security guard first that I could use my tripod only from the street, not from the sidewalk. Not one liking confrontations, I obliged and returned latter in the day. A second security officer than told me that the inner half of the sidewalk belongs to the Music Center, while the outer half belongs to the City of Los Angeles. He even showed me the official limit.

  115. Aslan Ivo says:

    I have run into situations where building owners claim to own sidewalks around the building. In some cases this is correct – the property line includes the sidewalk where people walk by, but you can still take photographs there – because there is a PUBLIC EASEMENT that permits the public to be there. So even if the building “owns the sidewalk” it is still a public place.

  116. Anonymous says:

    The sidewalk is ALWAYS ALWAYS owned by the city – only. Period. No ifs, ands or buts. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The property line starts ALWAYS at the inner edge of the sidewalk.

  117. JW Dewdney says:

    The sidewalk is ALWAYS ALWAYS owned by the city – only. Period. No ifs, ands or buts. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The property line starts ALWAYS at the inner edge of the sidewalk.

  118. Vertigogen says:

    From the UK…

    Yesterday I was at a protest and in discussion with the police about an “alleged attempted theft” (I’d threatened to switch off the engine of a car left running with no driver at the wheel on ‘private property’). We were hanging about waiting for one police officer to decide whether I should be arrested for failing to give them my name and address after said officer had specifically said he wasn’t going to arrest me (I therefore wasn’t obliged to give my details). Anyway, while we were waiting, a second police officer started arguing with my friend and I decided to take a picture of them, silhouetted against the sun. This second police officer went ballistic and demanded that I should delete the picture as taking it was a breach of her human rights.
    I refused and pointed out that there are CCTV cameras everywhere taking pictures of all of us without our permission, and that the police have taken miles of footage of me, but she wasn’t to be placated. The first officer came back and declared that I was to be arrested, and they bundled me into the police car, at which point the second officer started shouting again about the picture.
    Knowing the sort of thing police officers are likely to do in such circumstances, (eg and given that the camera actually isn’t mine (thank you Brendadada), I decided to cut my losses and deleted the picture for her. But I’m pretty pissed off about it.

  119. Anonymous says:

    While i read the entire story…i did’nt read all of the comments. But this is what Id do. I would go back there ( im sure im as big as that 6′ 3 290lbs. )..start shooting pictures..and as soon as that asshole touched me…id send him to the emergency room. Plain and simple. You have a right to defend yourself. Go back there and defend your rights. Hell..take a friend or two.

  120. Anonymous says:

    If i were taking pictures and some big baboon came up to me and tried to intimidate me, I would arrest him myself after he failed to ID himself as I am a peace officer in my state.. Keep Fighting!!!!

  121. Anonymous says:

    That’s why I always carry a concealed weapon with my permit of course 🙂

  122. Anonymous says:

    At the very least, the individual that you photographed has privacy rights. Some people don’t like photos being taken. That is their opinion, and that is that. Find something meaningful to gripe about.

  123. ExMessenger57 says:

    I remember that security guard(in hat),He has always been non-confrontational to me in the past….Looks like he is getting old

  124. Ryan says:

    Seriously, I get this sort of thing all the time. That being the case, I have become quite resistant and defiant to anyone who does not have a badge or ID to show me. I almost want to head down there myself and take pictures just to get this guy going. I suppose that wouldn’t reflect too well on those who are doing this sort of thing innocently, but with people like this, you need to put them in their place. Perhaps I will head over there on Sunday…

  125. bitswapper says:

    Impersonating a police office is a serious crime everywhere in the country. I noticed you filed a police report. Follow up on that as much as the security company the individual works for, regardless of whether or the security company makes amends. This individual committed a serious crime and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (in this case persecuted not meaning you have to incur any expenses, just press charges and let the local authorities handle it).

    This individual is clearly a public threat, and if you don’t press charges, you’ll be doing the public a disfavor.

  126. Anonymous says:

    How many pictures do you need of the same god damn place? I agree with your right to take pictures in a public place, but after the first few times being harassed, it’s like you are asking for it…trying to gain more publicity. Perhaps you are on some kind of a mission or something. In which case, you seem to be quite successful seeking out the ones who are regular harassers.

  127. michael says:

    It seems this kind of stuff is going on an awful lot lately. Perhaps it is time for a photography flash mob at some of these places. If one photographer freaks them out how about 500.

  128. I recommend that you tell Bechtel that it’s in their best interests to definitively state whether or not they employed this person who assaulted you, and if so, who he is. If they don’t make a definitive statement about it one way or another, you might feel forced to file a lawsuit against him as a john doe for assaulting you and infringing your civil rights to assemble peacefully, and you might have to subpoena every Bechtel employee to come to court and look at the photo and state under oath whether they know who he is, and wouldn’t it be much easier and save Bechtel a lot of time and money if they’d just give you an answer? Because of course you know he didn’t do it under their orders, and so if they employed him and tell you who he is he’ll be solely responsible, and if they didn’t employ him they can just say so and it’ll all be over from their perspective.

  129. Waymaker says:

    ..and the best part is, you had two friends with you as witnesses.

    I’d wager money that the big bald dude was impersonating a cop to try and scare you away. Something that may work on kids and skateboarders. Unfortunately, you were far too smart for his ploy to work. And the photo of him.. fricking awesome. Love the expression on his face.

  130. Willia says:

    I really think you should change the title. This man is obviously not a police officer……..this would not be police harassment.

  131. Steven says:

    Was that other security dude a very tan Gilbert Gottfried ?

  132. Anonymous says:

    You’re a whiny fucking cunt.

  133. Andy says:

    I walk by this area nearly every day. I think I’ll start taking pictures of 45 Fremont and 50 Beale with my cell phone daily….

  134. grace marie says:

    I actually know the security guard pictured, but not the one impersonating himself as a police officer. I can vouch for the security guard, he’s actually a pretty nice guy. I doubt he’s employed by Bechtel, but the company who manages security for the building. He’s really, really nice and probably just freaked out – though he shouldn’t have – by what you were doing.

    Blogger, please don’t do anything to the security guard if at all possible. I think I remember from conversations we’ve had, he’s got a wife battling cancer and a kid in college. So, yeah. Overreacting, sure? Just don’t go vigilante yourself, please.

  135. Anonymous says:

    I remember running in to this exact same issue in Toronto taking pictures of the Toronto Dominion Centre which at the time was the tallest building in Canada. An overzealous security guard assaulted me for taking unauthorized pictures from the sidewalk which of course is a public place. I went across the street to take pictures of the building and he actually came across the street to another company’s property to give me shit for taking pictures of the TD Centre.
    This at the time was because of commercial copyright issues not because of terrorist security worries.
    It always bothered me though that if you are going to build a monument that is going to catch attention from all over a city, how can you copyright it’s image if it’s in clear public site for miles?
    Guys like this are too much and I started to go out of my way to take this type of picture just to try to get a reaction so that I could do the legal dance with these pinheads.
    I’m like that though….a bit of a problem with pseudo-authority figures and their self importance in the world.

  136. Anonymous says:

    I’d get one of those electric stun gadgets. If he won’t show id, is wearing plain clothes, and grabs you, you should have the right to defend yourself. ZAP!

  137. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous said…
    That’s why I always carry a concealed weapon with my permit of course 🙂

    Yes… that’s the answer, someone grabs your arm so you should shoot them or start waiving a pistol around. That will make the streets safe (you tool)

  138. Anonymous says:

    I look at pictures of you and I can just imagine what your self-important asshole you must have behaved like during the whole thing. I doubt you were some Ghandi standing there being harassed for no reason. Give the guy some credit for not pounding your head in.

  139. Anonymous says:

    There is no ‘google street-view’ of 45 Fremontr hmmmmmm…..

  140. Anonymous says:

    Honestly, your last assumption was a rather poor one, it’s horrible PR for a company to just be involved in this, even if they had nothing to do with it, it’d be hard to say it would’ve happened if they weren’t there.

  141. Screw that – ask the sexy mother out! Fat is the New Black.

  142. JP says:

    This is exactly what lawsuits are for. I’m not in favor of suing people and companies on a whim, but when their employees assault you and infringe upon your rights, they really ought to pay a little bit. I don’t think a few thousand dollars would be out of line one bit.

  143. Xantus says:

    Please don’t drop it because you got an apology letter. The fake rent-a-cop should be punished. Keep us up to date 🙂

  144. Anonymous says:

    I came across your story through Digg while taking a break from studying for the CA Bar Exam. You should consult an attorney for the possibility of a civil claim against both the security guard and the corporation that hired him. Under a civil claim, you’d be seeking monetary damages. You need to hit a corporation where it hurts… in the wallet. Otherwise, they’d just hire a new security guard, possibly encourage the same type of aggressive behavior, and not have to worry about being hit with any criminal liability b/c the criminal assault charges would be filed against the security guard only, and not the corporation. You may possibly have an assault, battery, and false imprisonment claims against the security guard and the corporation itself because the torts occurred during the course of his employment. As an avid photographer myself, I feel that the harrassment that you endured is just plain wrong. This is what the legal system is created for. You’re NOT one of those litigious leaches that tries to take advantage of the system for your own personal benefit. I’m not an attorney (yet) so can’t give you legal advice, but as a fellow indignant photographer I can advise you to seek legal help.

    Keep up the great work.

  145. Anonymous says:

    If you care about your rights enough, DEFINITELY bring suit.

    You’ve not only got a potential action for battery against the individual here, but also against Bechtel under vicarious liability, since he was acting as their employee during the incident. That’s probably why they tried to placate you with that letter, and why they’re not giving you his name.

    Good luck.

  146. Anonymous says:

    impersonating a cop is a crime.

    i doubt his fat neck will help him in jail.

  147. urbanaut says:

    I’ve come across your blog several times in the past, and every time I do you’re complaining about something. Did you ever think that maybe this guy was just trying to do his job? In this day and age who can blame him for being a little paranoid? Try to see his point of view, suppose someone really had planned on taking pictures for malicious purposes under the guise of a wacked-out liberal photographer.

  148. KingTaco says:

    Even if some people might be tired of stories like this they still need to be told. Not enough people get angry about situations like this where they have a legitimate reason to be angry. If more people took the time to report people like the “police officer” who mistreated you then we’d all be better off. So I thank you, for making stories like this public and reminding us all that if we don’t complain when we’ve got a valid complaint that we’re silently agreeing to being treated however they want to treat us.

  149. Anonymous says:

    Please file a lawsuit against these people! What they (he) did was illegal and things will only get worse if someone doesn’t stand up and fight back.

    Don’t listen to the haters and ignorant fools who’ve posted here, Thomas.

    Good luck!

  150. dandlion says:

    Many Anonymous posters said that 1) this was your fault, 2) that this “brown shirt” was just doing his job, 3) Paranoia is a product of the times
    4) Numerous and various abuses directed at you

    I hope they achieve the state of being they are defending.

    While I am hesitant to label you completely faultless from what I have read, I also would not hesitate to call you correct.

    I sense here a range of responses, some much more optimistic about what rights we retain, some much more cynical than I am, but I can assure you this, If you choose to pursue your rights in this matter, the battle will be far more complicated than you can perceive at this time. Look at the letter you received from Bechtel Corporation, do you not see that they are already in the position of preparing a defense for a lawsuit?
    Alisa suggested you put it behind you and enjoy your photography in spite of him, which as weak a response as it is, is probably the best response for you personally.

    While it is fun to take on the “big guy” and win, I guess I am getting a little too cynical to believe there is much chance of actually winning anymore, have you noticed the way the the won/loss ratio for legal issues regarding personal freedom lately? Even if you have that one in a million situation where you can actually bring this to some fruation, I can guarantee you that Bechtel Corporation has a very – very vested interest in making it more costly to you than themselves, if for no other purpose than to discourage “nuisance lawsuits”.

    Rags Mahone unfortunately covered a whole lot of the truth in his diatribe, but his tone and verbal assault on everyone only serves to alienate those who might otherwise be supportive.

    Before you proceed with the many times suggested “Photo Swarm”, I heavily suggest you find out just Where Betchel’s and the property owner’s property ends, and confine your swarmers to public (i.e. City ) sidewalks (or street if the Brown Shirt was correct). I have seen at least three different opinions about where you do and don’t have rights to be in the comments, and I cannot stress enough that you get a legal opinion with more behind it than the guesses of those who both applaud and criticize you here.

    I have found that letters up the political chain are sometimes helpful in dealing with corporate entities, but do not for a moment doubt that those you are writing to are not for the most part “owned” by the same corporate interests you are attacking. A courteous tone in such letters will probably get you farther than anything they see as assaultive, but over all, this is more effective for the purposes of embarrassing the corporation away from thug behavior than actually getting any real pressure applied to them.

    I guess I will close with that, in spite of my attempt to get you to look at some of the realities of the battle you are considering, I offer my best wishes. I’ve got to run and buy a Powerball ticket, in the hopes of winning and buying a one-way ticket out of here.

  151. Anonymous says:

    A Real Cop could arrest you on grounds of disturbing the peace, and then resisting arrest, maybe disorderly conduct, and if you took a swing at him, assaulting a police officer.

    It would be up to the court to decide if any such charges were valid, or toss out the case . . .

    But real cops have the real power to arrest you should the situation turn difficult.

    May you have more enjoyable photography outings in the future!

    Try nature photography, the trees are beautiful in the summer…

  152. Anonymous says:

    Happening more and more often. We have created a seperate section at which you can see at:

  153. Anonymous says:

    Dear Thomas,
    I am beatlelovergurl from Flickr…I am soo sad that this has happened to you. I am sorry that you are not at flickr anymore. People still are leaving comments! Something like this happened to a flickr photographer and his name on flickr is Joey Harrison. He was taking a photo of an open garage and the Toledo Ohip police gave him a very hard time about this…They even asked him for his Social Security number which is illegal BTW!
    Please do not give up! Keep on Bechtel to give you info or pelase file a lawsuit. Thugs like that fake cop should not get away with this crap. Your story and Joey’s has scared me not to take photos….
    Here is Joey’s story…

    Here is a site that gives info on photgrapher’s rights.

    Everyone please read it! I would keep a copy on you at all times!

  154. Matthew says:

    This is one of the most commonly overlooked tools in the photographer’s toolbox: The Cell Phone.

    If I were you, as soon as that “police officer” touched me, I would have picked up that phone and called 911 (considering the ‘heated’ level of interaction taking place), and requested an officer come down to intervene.

    If it were not so heated, I would have called the local police station (always handy to have the non-emergency number on-hand for questions such as the badge-showing requirement).

  155. Riz says:

    You are a patriot and when you defend yourself in a situation like this you are defending the liberty of the people who continue to live in our once fine nation. You are a good example of how we MUST respond when people abuse us and attempt to claim more authority than they actually have. Please keep updating us on this issue if there is more news!

  156. Steve says:

    Physical assault? Oh please. Hey, nail his ass to the wall for impersonating a cop, but don’t be such a crybaby.

  157. Anonymous says:

    Policeman acting out of his capicity. Federal offence. Quote the criminal code, then Do a notarial protest, register it in the courthouse, and in 30 days, lien and take all his personal assets!!!

  158. Terry says:

    I took to installing the number of the police, for a number of areas, in my phone. I’ve found that calling them; or usually just the threat, is enough to change the situation.

    Having someone say, “I’m going to call the police,” is becomes a changed situation when I reach into my pocket, and say, “Want to call the police? Here, use my phone.”

    The other thing I do is carry a card, with my lawyers name on it. When they say I can’t shoot there, for legal reasons, I tell them to complain to him. To date, no one has followed through with that.

    The only times I’ve been hassled, by cops, is when someone calls them. The first thing every undercover cop has done is get my attention (usually a tap on the shoulder) and then a flash of the badge. If I’ve asked to see the credential which supports the badge, take a number, etc., they’ve been willing.

    And none of the cops have ever stopped me from shooting; just followed up on a complaint.

  159. Anonymous says:


  160. Fred says:

    I believe he would have shown me a badge or a camera would have sticking out of his butt.

  161. Anonymous says:

    Next time, use your cell phone and call a the real POLICE… Get the azz arrested on the spot for impersonating a PO.

  162. Bruce says:

    Hell, I take offense with the letter you got apologizing.

    They ask that you check-in to take photos of a building from public property. You don’t have to do that and you shouldn’t do it.

    Asking permission to take photographs from a public space is just taking one more step closer to them being able to say no.

    I try not to even read stories like this because it just infuriates me.

    I am a photojournalist and I run into volunteer police and fire officials all the time who try to remove me from places that civilians are allowed to be in.

    They try to decide what we as American citizens are allowed to cover. I am an American first and a journalist second.

    I agree with all of the other posters who say call the “real” police at once.

  163. chetthejet says:

    Found this blog via searching for CC images to use on my blog, then read your clip on flikcr, blogged that, then found this. Having been ejected from a public place by a states attorney and county police officer (the real kind), and having my camera confiscated under threat of arrest, this sure hits home with me. But caution: don’t ask for permission to shoot in places where you are permitted by law to shoot. BTW: I have consulted a (real) attorney re: my situation and am told I have a strong case against both parties that I have described. Another BTW: there were dozens of other photographers at the event that did not suffer the same fate; I’d hazzard a guess and say I was singled out. Also, my 10-year-old son, who was forced to leave with me, is now terrified of police and thinks to this day he is not allowed to go to the park like all the other kids. I believe you should not only follow up in every way you have desribed so far, but consult a civil attorney as well. When you fight the good fight, you help other American Citizens protect themselves from authoritative misconduct as well.

  164. John Burt says:

    Well I am on your side, your in the right. As for myself, I have a concealed pistol permit, and I always wear steel toe boots. Send the fat bastard to WA. You did well, filing the report. Don’t drop the ball Mall security is just as ugly

  165. Anonymous says:

    When I’m sure I’m right (as you were here) I pull out my phone and dial the local police number and don’t press dial and hand them a copy of the photographers rights document, I then tell them that tbh I’m just passing, made no particular effort to come here, but as I’m fully entitled to, if they dont back off and stop harassing me, I’ll be here every day for the next day doing a full series of complete architectural shots of the building, from every angle, for an entire year, as a self initiated artistic study…

    If they get threatening just hint that while they know where you might be, you definetley know where they work..

  166. everpress says:

    …So, whatever became of this?
    I’ve had similar instances, but none going so far as this and most stopped with a simple reminder that a threat is ‘assault’ and physical contact is ‘battery’. And it’s pretty difficult to find jobs, even security jobs, when you have become known by the law as being a legal liability to your employer.

  167. Kilgore Trout says:

    That guy looks like Wilford Brimley in “The Firm”. Tom Cruise beat him to death in the movie.

  168. Peter says:

    looks like a lot of whining and complaints about nothing

  169. Amara Eren says:

    I think you should sue him. Because he will do the same thing to others. He has to know that he is living in USA not in some third world country that he can asult others and can get away with it. We have an obligation to the socieity by protecting our rights. That is why we are enjoying the freedom in this country.

  170. Anonymous says:

    “concealed pistol permit” – omg are you serious?

  171. Tworiches says:

    @ Rags Mahone: National sins by a country don’t make internal crimes against its own citizens any less serious. To suggest that somehow TK is taking energy away from some larger-scale struggle is specious and venal. What are YOU doing for world peace, Omniscent One?

  172. mike b says:

    brilliant good story about the security guards i would have done the same followed it all up,i had a similar problem with a delusional pharmacy assistant who seemd to think she was qualified to give a clinical diagnosis like you i questioned her credentials she finally gave in and admitted she wasnt a qualified pharmacist with a degree excellent what you did though bet it brought him down a peg or two let me know the outcome if you can a good read!!!! kind regards mike

  173. […] can read more about this experience at Hawk’s web article PHOTOGRAPHING ARCHITECTURE IS STILL NOT A CRIME, POLICE HARRASMENT AT 45 FREMONT STREET. Apparently he is routinely harassed for taking public photographs in San Francisco, at least once […]

  174. Hank Fox says:

    As far as I know, it’s illegal to impersonate a police officer.

  175. employee background check…

    I have the same opinion as yours on this. What you said is true….

  176. Steve Marcus says:

    @ Ragsmahone
    Get a clue and learn how to spell before you offer your overbloated ego inflated opinion.

    “Rags Mahone says:
    July 11, 2006 at 5:00 pm
    Oh how the world must be laughing !”

    Good, let’em laugh. Maybe we should stop funding foreign countries with our Taxpayers $$$

    “So you were threatened, bullied and assaulted. Big deal. Tens of millions of people around the world are threatened and bullied by your country. However instead of then merely receiving a few bruises they are murdered, their homes destroyed, their children mutilated and their women raped and abused.”

    Yep, That’s always America’s fault, right?

    “All in the name of the same “ideal” of “freedom” that you only seem to take any interest in when it affects you personally.”

    You see things only the way you want to, don’t you?

    “It’s a shame Americans don’t/can’t “do” irony otherwise you would realise how ridiculous you seem to the CIVILISED world.”

    Civilized is what you meant I presume. Which part of the world do you consider more Civil than that of the US?

    “If you want sympathy then why not, just once, start questioning the climate of fear that your Government is creating not only abroad but, as you have now found out, in your own backyard.”

    We do. It’s called exorcising our constitutional rights granted by our Constitution unlike countries like Iran, China or venezuela. Are those some of the Civilized world you spoke of?

    “I agree that assault and impersonation of a police officer are crimes, but then again so are genocide, lying about WMDs, illegal wars, illegal sanctions, supporting dictators when it suits you, detaining innocent people without trial etc etc etc.”

    And your country is oh so innocent? Those who are without sin, feel free to cast the first stone.

    “Hopefully after you’ve all held hands and held a vigil on Fremont Street in support of your own rights you might make the trip out to Guantanamo Bay to see how a few bruises compare with the systematic beating and torture of people who don’t have the chance to voice their dissent or to prove their innocence.”

    Those Terrorist maggots have it better in Gitmo than people in civillian prisons. Don’t even compare the conditions at Gitmo because “it” makes “you” look like an ass to the Civilized world.

    “You may argue that as individuals you aren’t responsible for the vile, illegal actions of your Government …(most of which you aren’t aware of since your TV and Press censor so much of the news compared with countries outside the US)… but i would argue that you are being nothing more than whinging, ignorant hypocrites.”

    Look in the mirror and get your own house in order before you give advice as to how to clean ours, OK bub? Speaking about whining (no “G” there buddy)hypocrites, I rest my case your Honor.

    “You dish it out a whole lot worse to others, but can’t take it yourselves.”

    Can you?

    “Never mind … bullies always lose out in the end.”

    Uh yeah, they do.

  177. fadil says:

    Dear photografer
    It is a psiciatric sickeness for some securities to show up as a police officer. Don’t worry for the stupidity they do because is not only one. Let the sick security find his stupid much and fuck himself.

  178. OUM says:

    Story is circulating again.
    What ever happened?


  179. […] here to continue reading. Bookmark Click here to cancel […]

  180. Conveyancing says:

    hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise some technical points using this site, as I experienced to reload the site a lot of times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for much more of your respective interesting content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

  181. […] here to continue reading. Categories: […]