While Shane was standing in the customer service line at a Seattle REI, he watched two Loomis employees open and change out the cash in an ATM machine. Shane took a photo of them with his iPhone. This apparently freaked out the Loomis guards, the REI security staff, and then the Seattle police, who put handcuffs on Shane, drove him to the police station, and then made him sign a statement that he wouldn’t return to a REI store for a year. You might have noticed in that summary that they didn’t actually bring any charges against him, which should make it clear to anyone who wants to side with the faux Po-Po that what Shane did wasn’t illegal, that the rent-a-cops should be fired, and that REI and Loomis owe Shane a big apology.
Here’s just one reason why we think the Loomis guards should be fired, and not just reprimanded: the guard who saw Shane take the picture threatened him with physical harm if Shane didn’t obey his commands. Here’s the exchange between Shane and him:
Him – When you’re done over here, come talk to me.
Me – No, thanks.
Him – Don’t try to leave. I will tackle you.
Me – No, you won’t.
Him – I’ll call the cops.
Me – I can’t stop you.
We think Officer Debra Pelich should apologize just for flat-out being an idiot. Check out her ludicrous “reasoning” below:
We go back and forth about why I took it and don’t see it as a problem versus why they think it’s somehow threatening their personal safety and their property’s safety. They’re trying to convince me to give my ID to the Loomis guys to write their report. I’m trying to convince them to go fuck themselves that I didn’t do anything illegal or otherwise wrong and that Loomis doesn’t have any jurisdiction to compel me to give them my ID. Round and round, over and over. Until…
Officer Debra Pelich (#5976):
“Remember 9/11? I saw pictures of those buildings. One time when I was in Florida I was wandering around taking pictures. A security team came up and told me it was a high security restricted area. I wasn’t supposed to be taking pictures there. I explained that I didn’t know that, was a police officer, showed them my ID and complied with them. We cleared it up and I left.”
Me (totally baffled):
“Since you managed to pull the 9/11 card somehow, does that mean that everyone that took a picture of those buildings-”
That was when Officer GE Abed (#6270) spun me around and put handcuffs on me. They took me out the back door to the loading garage, put me in the back of Seattle Police car #805. We sat there for a few minutes then they took me down to Seattle Police Department West Precinct. I sat in a holding cell for about 30 minutes still in cuffs.
Shane noted that even though everyone was apparently deathly afraid of his super spy skillz, Officer Pelich made no move to hide the security code to the police station garage door when they pulled up—instead she keyed in the number in full view of Shane. Nice work there protecting your fellow officers from terrorists, Pelich.
Shane points out that with just a little bit of Google searching on the morning he posted his story, he came up with 33 different links to data—brochures, photographs, maps—about ATMs and ATM locations, all of it far more sensitive than the noisy 2MP photo he snapped from a distance with his iPhone. He also points out that they didn’t ask him to delete the image; it seems like his “crime” was taking an image and then refusing to follow the orders of the Loomis guard and hand over his ID afterwards, even though the Loomis guards had no legal right to demand any information from Shane. What REI could have done was post a sign on premises stating no photography was allowed, or talked to Shane after the incident to explain that they don’t allow photos on their property, but that wasn’t what happened either. Instead, Shane was carted away in cuffs.
Remember, you can take photos of pretty much any damned thing you want in public (military and national security areas are the exception), including children, buildings, airports, and police officers. Private properties can set their own rules about what kind of photography is allowed, but can’t confiscate your film without a court order. If they try to or threaten you with arrest, they’re more likely to be breaking the law than you are.
Bert Krages, an attorney who wrote a concise summary of rights called The Photographer’s Rights (from which we pulled out the info in the above paragraph), points out that most public photo altercations are started by security officers or employees who don’t know the law and who just assume that taking photos is somehow illegal. He suggests if a rent-a-cop becomes “pushy, combative, or unreasonably hostile,” call the police. But who do you call when the police are also dumb and easily frightened, and more likely to protect private businesses instead of private citizens?
If you know of a good attorney in Seattle who can help his cause, please let Shane know at twitter.com/veganstraightedge
The Photographer’s Rights [Krages]