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James Foley, Ferguson and the Blackout

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NUJ London Egyptian Embassy protest calling for all detained journalists to be released and end the crack-down on media workers. © Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

Recent events have highlighted the extent to which people behind professional and amateur cameras are increasingly at risk. This was compounded by the brutal murder of video journalist James Foley by Islamic State (ISIS).

His work as a filmmaker shows a committed journalist who cared for people and wanted to inform the world of the suffering caused by war, especially the innocent civilians trapped in the midst of conflict. I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist (PHNAT) wishes to send deepest condolences to the family and friends of James Foley.

In the same week the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) posted an article stating journalists were increasingly being targeted in conflict zones. This came just days after The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) released a statement saying that July was the bloodiest month in the history of Palestinian media, where nine journalists were killed and eight media outlets were shelled during the Israeli military offensive on Gaza. A further six journalists were killed since the release of the statement.

Across the other side of the world in Ferguson, Missouri, journalists covering the Michael Brown protest were arrested, other journalists faced removal from the area and a militarised police force pointed assault rifles at amateur documenters.

Photography is Not a Crime (PINAC) has reported on a massive increase in police misconduct across the States this year, often ending in assault or arrest of members of the public whose only crime was to film the police and hold them to account.

The concerning development surrounding the Foley murder was the call for #ISISmediablackout on Twitter, initially going viral to halt the dissemination of the ISIS execution propaganda video. Over the week this has quickly spread to condemnation of reporting the murder and more generally anything to do with ISIS. PHNAT too has faced criticism for posting an article reporting Foley’s murder on our Facebook page, some arguing any reporting of ISIS and their atrocities fuels the group’s propaganda.

The call for people not disseminate the video on the Internet was completely understandable. In the UK the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command took it a stage further and warned that viewing, downloading or reposting the video risks prosecution for a terrorist offence.

Whether it is a state enforced blackout or a well-meaning social media campaign, as we have seen this week, censorship hinders our ability to report the facts in order for the public to remain informed.

Media censorship is not a new issue. This was illustrated graphically by American photographer Ken Jarecke’s 1991 Basra Road image of an Iraqi burned to death at the wheel of his vehicle. This photograph was censored by the American media until long after the Gulf War.

Jareke said: “No one would touch my photograph. The excuse was that it was too upsetting, that people don’t want to look at that type of thing anymore. The truth was that the whole US press collaborated in keeping silent about the consequences of the Gulf War and who was responsible.” – Reporting The World by John Pilger

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The Return of S44?

Press photographers get stop & searched for weapons under terrorism powers en-route to Brighton in 2013. © Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

Press photographers get stop & searched for weapons under terrorism powers en-route to Brighton in 2013.
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

If you have been stopped and searched under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act in the last year or so, despite it being repealed, please let us know.
The PHNAT team have been made aware of a serious breach of law and would like to establish how widespread the misuse of counter terrorism powers or other stop and search powers are affecting photographers and videographers.
Please @phnat your experiences on Twitter or Facebook us.
You can also contact us directly by email at PHNAT.

Olympics Callout

Olympic Stadium © London 2012 Press Office

 

With a huge police operation, thousands of troops, private security and new legal powers taking over parts of London during the upcoming Olympic & Paralympic games, the PHNAT campaign will be closely monitoring the experiences of photographers, both amateur and professional, around the events & sites. Continue reading

Video: City Hall Flashmob

On World Press Freedom Day 2011, photographers and PHNAT supporters converged on London’s City Hall  to highlight the harassment of photographers by security guards on privately owned but publicly accessible areas of London and hand our letter in to the Mayor. As well as the photographs and interview in the original article we want to share this video report of the action courtesy of Videojournalist Jason N Parkinson:

PHNAT Flashmob City Hall from Jason N. Parkinson on Vimeo.

Video: Stand your Ground

A glimpse of attitudes to photography of many city security guards:

Video & text from the London Street Photography Festival.

On Tuesday 21 June 2011 six photographers were assigned different areas of the City to photograph. Some used tripods, some went hand held, one set up a 5 x 4.

All were instructed to keep to public land and photograph the area as they would on a normal day. The event aimed to test the policing of public and private space by private security firms and their reaction to photographers.

All six photographers were stopped on at least one occasion. Three encounters led to police intervention.

This is what happened.

Directed and Produced by Hannah White for the London Street Photography Festival
Edited by Stuart York

Many thanks to:

Tim Bowditch
Leona Chaliha
Ana Galanou
Michael Grieve
David Hoffman
Chris Ogilvie
Pennie Quinton
Liam Ricketts
Toby Smith
Grant Smith
Camilla Webster
Philip Wolmuth
Stuart York

A brief history

Grant Smith & Marc Vallée launching the pamphlet at the AoP Gallery. Image © Jonathan Warren 2011

Grant Smith & Marc Vallée launching the pamphlet at the AoP Gallery. Image © Jonathan Warren 2011

There was a great turnout at last nights launch party where we gave away over 500 copies of the pamphlet which is available to download now.

We’ve still got lots of copies to give away you can get one by sending a double stamped self-addressed envelope to Photographer Not a Terrorist, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Rd, London WC1X 8DP. If you’d like a handful to leave at a venue please contact us to arrange delivery.

We’d like to again thank the National Union of Journalists and the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom who have funded the production of the pamphlet. Also to the London Photographers’ Branch and British Press Photographers’ Association who have supported the pamphlet. The AoP for letting us use their gallery and ING Media for sponsoring the event.

Download: I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist : A brief history (PDF)

Pamphlet Launch Party

Image: Jess Hurd

Image: Jess Hurd

Over the last few months we’ve been working on a pamphlet that celebrates the history of the I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign. We’re now proud to invite you all to it’s launch at the AoP Gallery at 7pm on the 14th June with free refreshments kindly sponsored by ING Media.

The pamphlet entitled I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! – A brief History is fully illustrated over 20-pages, written by the campaign’s founders and organisers and will be available for free at the event. It is available to download (PDF) or you can request a free copy by sending a double stamped self-addressed envelope to Photographer Not a Terrorist, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Rd, London WC1X 8DP.

We’re indebted to the National Union of Journalists and the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom who have funded the production of the pamphlet. Also to the London Photographers’ Branch and British Press Photographers’ Association who have supported the pamphlet.

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City Hall Security Scarper

Image © Jess HurdImage © Jess HurdImage © Jess HurdImage © Jess HurdImage © Jonathan Warren

Images © Grant Smith, Jess Hurd, Marc Vallée & Jonathan Warren

We held a very successful flashmob outside London City Hall today, World Press Freedom Day, to highlight the harassment of photographers by security guards on privately owned but publicly accessible areas of London.

We also delivered a letter to Mayor Boris Johnson explaining how security guards were preventing people from quite legally photographing buildings in the city.

The security guards who usually swoop down on photographers who dare bring a ‘professional’ camera out on More London property were nowhere to be seen and even the City Hall security guard who took the letter to the Mayor kept a stiff upper lip as he was mobbed by photographers in the lobby.

Dear Mr Johnson

Today is World Press Freedom Day, photographers from all over the city have come to City Hall to express their frustration at the behaviour of private security guards.

The event has been organised by the campaign group, I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! (PHNAT), which was set up to fight unnecessary and draconian restrictions against individuals taking photographs in public spaces.

PHNAT is concerned about the role of private security guards in the prevention of terrorism. Their role has been promoted by police, with the result that many privately employed guards are illegally preventing citizens from taking any photographs at all.

Areas designated as public realm are often privately managed spaces that are subject to rules laid down by the private management companies. Most insidious of these is the outright banning of photography in some of our most widely enjoyed public spaces, such as Canary Wharf and the Thames Walk between Tower Bridge and City Hall.

We are bringing this issue to the attention of the general public to highlight the creeping restrictions to press freedom and the right of the citizen to photograph in a public place.

Yours Sincerely

Concerned photographers

 

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