More Photography Harassment in Maryland

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Ryan

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http://odenton.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/commuter-taking-photos-alarms-passengers-removed-from-train-at-odenton

Passengers on the No. 419 MARC train asked that a man photographing the scene be removed from the train Tuesday morning at the Odenton station.

The self-described train enthusiast was taking a series of photographs, then was briefly detained by federal agents after raising concerns among fellow passengers, reports The Baltimore Sun.

The unidentified man represented no danger, said 1st Sgt. Jonathan Green, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police. Riders had pointed out the man, who they deemed suspicious, to a train conductor. The conductor contacted members of a federal Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) team, who were doing a routine check at the station at the time.

The other passengers wanted the man, who was taking pictures of "the train, tracks, station and security cameras," taken off the train, Green told the Sun.

The VIPR team asked the man to get off the train, and he "did so cooperatively," Green said.

The man told agents he is a "train enthusiast" who enjoys taking pictures of his daily commute to his job in Washington, Green said. The passenger even offered to show his photos to investigators, who let him continue on on a later train.
Know your rights and stand up for them!

This is extremely disturbing, as this has happened to me (on the Washington Metro), and I routinely shoot at Odenton. I've never heard of the TSA invading Odenton before, not happy about that part either. Wonder what they were up to.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I rarely photograph aircraft or trains anymore due to routine harassment by security personnel and police officers. In previous years we actually had observation areas built into major transportation structures where you could watch and photograph as much as you wanted. Of course that was before we became scared of our own shadow. These days anyone who is curious and dares to photograph our transportation systems is considered a threat to national security. This guy did not resist and managed to say all the right things but if you really make a point of standing up for your rights and don't say enough or say the wrong thing or **** off the wrong person then who knows what might happen to you. I think we need to make the ability to travel freely a protected right. Otherwise taking a picture may get you banned from traveling. Maybe not for life, but long enough to lose your job, and who among us wouldn't be impacted by that?
 

Ryan

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I "spoke" with Rafi on Facebook, he's going to bring this up at the next Rider's Advisory Council meeting. I intend to be there to hear what the MTA folks have to say and let them know my thoughts on the matter.

I also sent the MTA feedback using their website. If anyone else that feels strongly about this, you can provide feedback here: http://mta.maryland.gov/contact-mta
 

George Harris

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As a railroad oriented civil engineer I have taken pictures of track, trains, bridges, cuts, fills, stations, signals, yards, and everything else railroad related for over 40 years. There has been specific emphasis on details of track. These pictures are of facilities in somewhere above 10 states and 9 foreign countries. And then there are the books and technical standards that I have collected over the years. No, I am not a spy. I work with this stuff.

Given the current paranoia I would probably be locked up for the rest of my life. Its is a catch 22 if you try to be discreet about it. If blatant, many people see you and somebody may go into panic. If discreet, then you may have to explain to law enforcement why you are acting sneakily.

I see all this silly stuff as making it difficult for both the enthusiast and the professional, and not really doing anything to improve security.
 

Bob Dylan

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Wow, a person taking pics of trains in broad daylight is a "threat"???

Hate to say it but all the scare talk drummedvup by the paranoid right wing since 911 reminds me of how it was in the Communist Captive Nations during the Cold War! (And I was there in East Germany during this time)

All the Security Theater and LE BS being drummed into the traveling sheep is scarey! Be afraid, be very afraid of these Facist goons and the paranoid travelers who can't wait to turn in "suspicious" looking fellow travelers who are doing nothing more than exercising their rights! Ben Franklin was really right when he wrote about Safety and Security!!!!
 

PerRock

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I'm failing to see the big deal over this. He wasn't arrested, the report doesn't mention him being harassed. the VIPR team asked him to step off the train (he complied), detained him (that's standard procedure, it was even before 9-11), questioned him, and let him on his way. If the big deal is that it was a VIPR team, it sounds like it was really just the closest law enforcement entity. They were at the station already, they got to question him. The police have always had the right to detain you if they have reasonable suspicion that you may be doing something illegal, the only thing that's really changed since 9-11 is that police (and the public, thanks to the 'See something, Say something' campaigns) are paying more attention to photographers. It comes with the territory, it always has, it just does more now.

peter
 

MattW

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I'm failing to see the big deal over this. He wasn't arrested, the report doesn't mention him being harassed. the VIPR team asked him to step off the train (he complied), detained him (that's standard procedure, it was even before 9-11), questioned him, and let him on his way. If the big deal is that it was a VIPR team, it sounds like it was really just the closest law enforcement entity. They were at the station already, they got to question him. The police have always had the right to detain you if they have reasonable suspicion that you may be doing something illegal, the only thing that's really changed since 9-11 is that police (and the public, thanks to the 'See something, Say something' campaigns) are paying more attention to photographers. It comes with the territory, it always has, it just does more now.

peter
You said it yourself, "reasonable suspicion." There was none.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The only thing that's really changed since 9-11 is that police (and the public, thanks to the 'See something, Say something' campaigns) are paying more attention to photographers. It comes with the territory, it always has, it just does more now.
There are actually many things that have changed since 9/11, in many different ways, but speaking in absolute terms like this you seem to be going out of your way to make it clear that you're not interested in hearing about it. I have no idea where you get your news or how close you've ever been to actually testing your own freedoms, but it doesn't sound like you have much if any personal experience to relate to.
 

Alice

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I'd be pretty pissed off to be pulled off a train so I had to take a later train, especially if I were on a tight schedule (like on my way to work as this man was), or if the next train was a long wait.

This is just like the airport nonsense, it looks like somebody is doing something but doesn't increase security. If I thought a terrorist was on my train, I'd get off at a minimum.

I wonder how those uncomfortable passengers would react to Google Glass (even off) and other wearable tech.
 

cirdan

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As a railroad oriented civil engineer I have taken pictures of track, trains, bridges, cuts, fills, stations, signals, yards, and everything else railroad related for over 40 years. There has been specific emphasis on details of track. These pictures are of facilities in somewhere above 10 states and 9 foreign countries. And then there are the books and technical standards that I have collected over the years. No, I am not a spy. I work with this stuff.

Given the current paranoia I would probably be locked up for the rest of my life. Its is a catch 22 if you try to be discreet about it. If blatant, many people see you and somebody may go into panic. If discreet, then you may have to explain to law enforcement why you are acting sneakily.

I see all this silly stuff as making it difficult for both the enthusiast and the professional, and not really doing anything to improve security.
I'm not professional, I'm just a railfan. But I have several thosand pictures on my harddrive (and boxes of negatives going back before that), many showing details of track, details of station architecture, details of locomotives, freight cars, signals, fences, railings, signs, crossing gates and other railroad and associated equipment. A lot of it I take just out of interest or for reference for my model railroad (if you want to correctly recreate the way rust and dirt attaches to things you need reference photos to get it right). Sometimes this involves photographing the same detail from all avialable angles. If the police ever inspect my hard disk I might have some explaining to do.
 

PerRock

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I'm failing to see the big deal over this. He wasn't arrested, the report doesn't mention him being harassed. the VIPR team asked him to step off the train (he complied), detained him (that's standard procedure, it was even before 9-11), questioned him, and let him on his way. If the big deal is that it was a VIPR team, it sounds like it was really just the closest law enforcement entity. They were at the station already, they got to question him. The police have always had the right to detain you if they have reasonable suspicion that you may be doing something illegal, the only thing that's really changed since 9-11 is that police (and the public, thanks to the 'See something, Say something' campaigns) are paying more attention to photographers. It comes with the territory, it always has, it just does more now.

peter
You said it yourself, "reasonable suspicion." There was none.
The 'reasonable suspicion' is that he could be a terrorist. Sure you're not going to like it, but that is what it is.

The only thing that's really changed since 9-11 is that police (and the public, thanks to the 'See something, Say something' campaigns) are paying more attention to photographers. It comes with the territory, it always has, it just does more now.
There are actually many things that have changed since 9/11, in many different ways, but speaking in absolute terms like this you seem to be going out of your way to make it clear that you're not interested in hearing about it. I have no idea where you get your news or how close you've ever been to actually testing your own freedoms, but it doesn't sound like you have much if any personal experience to relate to.
I've been stopped a number of times for photographing trains. Most times I've been treated respectfully & after telling them I was a railfan & just taking some pictures. The police usually informed me of where the right of way began (so I wan't trespassing) and left me to carry on.

peter
 

Ryan

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The 'reasonable suspicion' is that he could be a terrorist. Sure you're not going to like it, but that is what it is.
Nope. Suspecting a regular commuter of being a terrorist for taking pictures is wildly unreasonable.

I'm failing to see the big deal over this. He wasn't arrested, the report doesn't mention him being harassed.
You must have a different definition of "harassed" than I do. Getting pulled off a train and made late for work for no good reason certainly counts.
 

rrdude

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Yeah, PerRock, I gotta agree with most of posters who think this SUX big time, it does. "Police State" we are not, yet, and hopefully the youth in this county will wake up b4 it gets there. If not, it might be up to us old timers Jim to get "Back to the streets" an re-live our youth in a different way............

If you are just taking pix, and a LE asks you, fine, (kind of) but if they make you miss your train...........

As one poster said, more employees under you means more power, that is one reason TSA and the like have expanded so fast, once the horse is outta the gate, real hard to reel them back in......... (how was that for folksy sayings?)
 

PerRock

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No where did it say they forced him off the train. According to the article, they asked him to step of the train and he complied. I have no problems with spitting in my coffee over someone being forced to do something for taking pictures. My point is that this story doesn't really have big injustice against the photographer.

Peter
 
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jis

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What do you think would have happened had he not complied?
Someone with sufficiently rose colored glasses and sufficient implicit faith in the good behavior of law enforcement under all circumstances is unlikely to see this line of argument as a valid one I am afraid. Of course being the nice guys they are they would've said "Aw shucks, carry on, we were just checking". :p
 

Railroad Bill

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Gee, I was going to take pictures of MARC trains next week while waiting for our train from Edgewood to DC.

Perhaps I should place my camera in luggage, walk in a straight line to the platform, and salute those who fear I am a terrorist. :angry:

It is so sad what is happening to our country. The terrorists win when our gov't takes away our freedom to assemble, and move about freely without trespassing. If I was asked to leave my scheduled train for no legitimate reason, I would be very upset. Hopefully not arrested..

I am rarely critical of those who post on our forum, but there are some here who need to wake up before they give up more rights to a potential police state. :help:
 
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George Harris

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Let's pause and take a look at how things have changed over the last 50 plus years: Remember WW2 conditions? Yet all this emphasis on carry photo identification, register your gun, and many other things did nor for quite a few years thereafter. How do you think these 16 year olds and younger got themselves in the military during that time? They did not have birth certificates! They simply said, I am 18 or whatever. Carry a photo ID? There weren't any, except maybe passports. My original driver's licence did not have a picture. Your driver's license had a random description. Male, female, race, hair color eye color, weight, height, and most of that was what you told them or the person issuing the license saw when he looked at you while typing the form out. This "papers please" or show your ID was regarded as something done in dictatorships. During the war years there was some form of control of people's movements, but that was primarily because of insufficient transport capacity availability. After that I know first hand that train tickets, bus tickets DID NOT have a name on them. Pullman tickets probably did, but it would simply be what you told them it was, no ID check. In other words people's movements were not tracked and could not be tracked. Now you can't even get on the Dog without giving your name.

Unacompanied minors? Give the porter a tip to keep up with him, ask the conductor to straighten him out if he acts up, and woe be to the person that tries to mess with him/her. They better hope the law gets to them first.

The original start of checking out airplane baggage and people getting on planes had nothing to do with "terrorism" The cause was a couple of cases where planes were blown up by planted explosives that were planted by someone wanting to collect life insurance off of a relative that was traveling, or maybe just trying to do in a spouse (usuallly a wife) they wanted rid of.

One step at a time we are losing freedom.
 

Ryan

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It's funny that you mention that, George.

Here's one of the comments from the Patch article I linked above:

Kolo Jezdec April 02, 2014 at 02:07 PM

My grandfather was German, named Adolph. When WWII started, he had some visitors who confiscated his camera and ordered him not to travel more than 15 miles from (in Pittsburgh) w/o permission. ****At least he was no put in some camp out west...****I thought we were beyond such foolishness.
 

NW cannonball

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Let's pause and take a look at how things have changed over the last 50 plus years: Remember WW2 conditions? Yet all this emphasis on carry photo identification, register your gun, and many other things did nor for quite a few years thereafter. How do you think these 16 year olds and younger got themselves in the military during that time? They did not have birth certificates! They simply said, I am 18 or whatever. Carry a photo ID? There weren't any, except maybe passports. My original driver's licence did not have a picture. Your driver's license had a random description. Male, female, race, hair color eye color, weight, height, and most of that was what you told them or the person issuing the license saw when he looked at you while typing the form out. This "papers please" or show your ID was regarded as something done in dictatorships. During the war years there was some form of control of people's movements, but that was primarily because of insufficient transport capacity availability. After that I know first hand that train tickets, bus tickets DID NOT have a name on them. Pullman tickets probably did, but it would simply be what you told them it was, no ID check. In other words people's movements were not tracked and could not be tracked. Now you can't even get on the Dog without giving your name.

Unacompanied minors? Give the porter a tip to keep up with him, ask the conductor to straighten him out if he acts up, and woe be to the person that tries to mess with him/her. They better hope the law gets to them first.

The original start of checking out airplane baggage and people getting on planes had nothing to do with "terrorism" The cause was a couple of cases where planes were blown up by planted explosives that were planted by someone wanting to collect life insurance off of a relative that was traveling, or maybe just trying to do in a spouse (usuallly a wife) they wanted rid of.

One step at a time we are losing freedom.
Agree.

Part of the reason for recent ID requirements is that airlines maximize revenue by having non-transferable non-refundable tickets.

Likewise, the "unaccompanied minors" surcharges is just a "revenue enhancement" thing. Who ever would have thought that a marginally competent minor, or adult., would have to pay a "protection" surcharge just to ride a public carrier - which they know how to do already.
 

George Harris

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It's funny that you mention that, George.

Here's one of the comments from the Patch article I linked above:

Kolo Jezdec April 02, 2014 at 02:07 PM

My grandfather was German, named Adolph. When WWII started, he had some visitors who confiscated his camera and ordered him not to travel more than 15 miles from (in Pittsburgh) w/o permission. ****At least he was no put in some camp out west...****I thought we were beyond such foolishness.
Yes, there was a certain amount of paranoia about those that were ethnically German or Japanese. It was not altogether undeserved. If you had family ties back in the home country they had governements quite willing to say we want information from your US relatives, and if not YOU will suffer. You being able to say, I can't get anything from him because he is in a detention camp or being under surveillance could save your life. For many people if it is your country or your family that is not an easy choice, and for quite a few poeple, and not just them, family first is no question at all. In my early working years one of the guys was ethnically Japanese, probably 3rd generation or so American who was born in one of these detention camps. His comment was that his family did not have that much negative to say about it. Most of the noise we now hear about that is from people a couple of generations removed from the reality.

There was a fair amount of paranioa during the war years, not all unjustified. Ever hear of the Japanese balloon bombs? Quite a few made across the Pacific, but The Japanese never knew it so they gave up on the concept. The road signs were removed in the east coast states. The Navajo code talkers were definitely secret during the war, but every navy guy talked about them from the minute the war was over, so it was well known among the WW2 and immediate post war generation.
 

Ryan

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It's a good thing this guy didn't have a tripod!

http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2014/04/03/baltimore-police-investigate-incident-at-kipp-academy/

BALTIMORE (WJZ)School scare. A Baltimore City school was placed on lockdown after a report with a person with a gun on campus. Its the second school lockdown in our area just this week.

Meghan McCorkell has more on what happened.

KIPP Harmony Academy and KIPP Ujima Village Academy were placed on lockdown around 9 a.m. Thursday after students saw what they thought was a man with a gun.

SWAT teams rushed into KIPP Academy in Northwest Baltimore.

Panicked parents plead for answers.

There was a stranger in the building. They dont know who it was, one mother said.

Everything is not OK because the kids are still in there, another mother said.

After four hours on lockdown, students were evacuated to a nearby high school.

Investigators believe a University of Maryland journalism student was carrying a camera tripod that was mistaken for a gun.

I think he was there with permission and it was just a misidentification by the kids, said police commissioner Anthony Batts.
 

siberianmo

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Good Morning (here in Missouri),

Just had to add my two-cents to this seemingly never-ending harassment by "authority" for those of us who pay the fares and take some snaps of arriving trains and of passing scenery while aboard.

I have thousands repeat thousands of photos of my trips between Kirkwood and Kansas City aboard the Missouri River Runner (and forerunner "Mule") over more than 2 decades - at stations, from the rear vestibule and through the windows at my seat. Never once have been told to stop.

On my last trip aboard Acela from WashDC to Boston, one of the crew tried to have me arrested - yes arrested - for taking photos of the car I was traveling in before departure. Fortunately, all of that ended with only ruffled feathers (mine) as I produced a copy of a letter from Mr. Boardman about Amtrak's photo policy along with some convincing identification that I was surely no threat. Anyway, it could have gotten ugly in a New York minute, but did not.

When my train arrived in Boston, I did "my thing" and snapped off photos of the consist from the platform along with many others of trains at idle as well as shots from within South Station. No problems.

On a recent trip aboard St. Louis MetroLink, someone from across the platform where I was standing, began shouting in my direction to put away my camera, otherwise I would be arrested - yes arrested. This Bozo apparently worked for Metro, but that is all I could tell from my vantage point. Once again I carried along a copy of Metro's policy regarding picture taking - a permit of sorts for a specific day.

My rail travels average out at 12 thousand miles per year and I snap off photos at a rate exceeding my heartbeat, or so I have been told. Once I am no longer permitted to take shots of the consist I am traveling or of passing scenery, I stop spending my money on what should be an enjoyable experience.

Harassment by any other name is something we rail travelers should never tolerate or roll over for. Report it and always cover your stern section by availing yourself of the most current photo policy document from whatever rail carrier you are traveling. Worked for me.

Of course - and this goes without saying, but I will say it anyway - be considerate of fellow passengers who may not want their images captured by a stranger while aboard or at the platform and by no means snap off shots of crew members, without their concurrence.
 

Ryan

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Of course - and this goes without saying, but I will say it anyway - be considerate of fellow passengers who may not want their images captured by a stranger while aboard or at the platform and by no means snap off shots of crew members, without their concurrence.
While that's polite, there's certainly no requirement that you do so.

No expectation of privacy when you're out in public.
 

siberianmo

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Ryan - Good point and understood.

However, I suppose if we all did only what is required (which would be amazing in and of itself!) perhaps society would be worse than it has devolved to. What I mean I pefer to lean toward the considerate side.

One should be aware of whatever the policies are when in someone elses domain - in this case at the station or aboard the train. Like it or not, it is hard to argue a point when being escorted from the premises.

Make no mistake about it, I am on the side of common sense and no way, no how support over zealousness on either side.
 
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