NY photojournalist gets cameras back after arrest, but not press credentials

NPPA | The New York Times

Robert Stolarik's cameras were confiscated when he was arrested on Aug. 4 while photographing police on a public street. He has them back now, but he still hasn't received his press credentials. Stolarik met with NYPD's Internal Affairs unit on Monday to discuss his complaint against the officers who beat and arrested him.

In an interview with the Times, NPPA lawyer Mickey Osterreicher says "the war on terrorism has somehow morphed into an assault on photography," both by the press and the general public.

"Literally every day, someone is being arrested for doing nothing more than taking a photograph in a public place. It makes no sense to me. Photography is an expression of free speech," Osterreicher says.

NYPD has issued guidelines telling officers not to interfere with the press, but Osterreicher said the problem persists.

I believe that the problem is it’s ingrained in the police culture. The idea of serve and protect has somehow changed, for some officers, to include protecting the public from being photographed.

Many times officers are pushing and shoving, and our photographers are told, “If that was your mother, would you want to see her picture in the paper?”

That’s not the officer’s job. The officer’s job is to protect and serve, to make sure the public is safe, secure the scene, collect evidence. It’s not to decide what pictures should and shouldn’t be taken on the street.

There are officers who think it’s their job to protect other officers from being photographed. They’re absolutely wrong. That not what their function is.

Related: Your phone is a First Amendment deviceWhat to Do When Police Tell You to Stop Taking Photos, Video

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  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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