I understand that many of the readers of this AMOEBLOG may not dwell in New York City or be anywhere even close to the East Coast, but the issue that is planned to be protested today (Thursday, August 2nd) in NYC -- fighting the possible ban on our freedom to take photographs in public places in New York City -- is something that seriously affects all of our civil liberties.
Here's the deal with this latest possible ban (bear in mind it may not even happen or may not be enforced even if it is made law) as reported recently by the New York Times and by a New York City politically charged group called NYC 911 Truth. They say that the proposed banning would essentially mean that any non-insured still photographer or filmer, solo and more specifically a team of camera operators, would be targeted by this proposed ban that calls for a requirement of a one million dollar liability insurance policy in addition to a permit for various photography and filming actions that occurs for more then 10 minutes.
Reportedly the city claims it is only enforcing and "adjusting" old permit laws, to justify these actions. The police department has stated it will begin enforcing the laws, as of today August 2nd. Hence the planned protests for today, which are scheduled for protesters to begin gathering at 4:30PM today (Thursday August 2nd) at City Hall, downtown New York City to challenge the Mayor Bloomberg-enduced ban on filming and photography.
If indeed this ban were to fully go into effect (and even in these crazy post 9/11 paranoid times seems unlikely, but possible), the implications would be very great and far-reaching. For example, at one NYC Critical Mass gathering I attended some time back (like in SF, also held on last Friday of the month) there were countless cyclists (unfairly in my opinion) arrested by the ever-vigilant NYPD, who packed them into the backs of Paddy Wagons and hauled their asses off to jail.
Now, luckily, several Critical Massers had cameras (video and still) to record these arrests -- most of which were later deemed unlawful, with no charges being pressed against almost all of the so-called law-breakers. But imagine for a second just what behavior the cops would easily get away with should this ban on all photography go into effect? And that is just the tip of the iceberg!
And while such a ban might superficially sound totally crazy and unlikely, remember that so did, not too long ago, the concept of Bush getting re-elected as our "war president" for a second term.
And bear in mind that only within the last two days were there news reports of Democrats (the supposed good guys) in Congress, under pressure from President Bush, pushing to pass legislation this week to expand the government’s electronic wiretapping powers. The "land of the free" indeed! In case you missed that story, you can read the report on it in the New York Times.