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Connecticut woman thinks public photography is a crime
June 9, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
News flash: it is legal to take photographs in public.
Unfortunately, there seem to be people out there who think the opposite.
Last month, a young man was flying a remote control drone airplane on a beach in Connecticut when a 23-year-old woman took offense. A woman identified in media accounts as Andrea Mears allegedly thought the man was trying to take pictures of women in bikinis on the beach. She called the police, physically attacked the young man and called him a pervert. Unluckily for her, the man had an iPhone in hand and recorded the entire attack, which was used as evidence to file third degree assault and disturbing the peace charges against her.
The man has uploaded the video online. It can be seen at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=57e—1402206030 The British tabloid The Daily Mail, along with other outlets, reported the incident. The Daily Mail story can be found at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2652262/Thats-little-pervert-Bizarre-moment-crazed-woman-assaults-man-flying-drone-beach.html A blog called photography is not a crime.com also reported on the incident. The same site also reported on a 2011 incident in Wahpeton where a kid who videotaped a police officer talking to someone in public was allegedly taken to the police station and interrogated for an hour before being released without charges being filed.
There are some lessons I would take away from incidents like these. There is no expectation of privacy in public. Strangers, including professional photographers, newspaper reporters, tourists and hobbyists are usually perfectly within their legal rights to take pictures of people and their children without asking permission if they are in a public location. They are allowed to take pictures of police in a public location, provided they are not hindering an investigation or an arrest.
If you don't exercise your rights you will lose them. Too many people, like Mears, are inclined to believe that it is no longer legal to take pictures in public if other people object. It is also illegal to physically attack someone in public, even if he is doing something genuinely offensive. Mears has probably learned her lesson by now.
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