Mass Photo Gathering

Mass Gathering in defence of street photography

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! invite all Photographers to a mass photo gathering in defence of street photography.

Following a series of high profile detentions under s44 of the terrorism act including 7 armed police detaining an award winning architectural photographer in the City of London, the arrest of a press photographer covering campaigning santas at City Airport and the stop and search of a BBC photographer at St Pauls Cathedral and many others. PHNAT feels now is the time for a mass turnout of Photographers, professional and amateur to defend our rights and stop the abuse of the terror laws.

And thanks to the lovely people at Spreadshirt there’s now free shipping on everything in our shop with the promo code 23JAN. So go buy a hoodie or 3!

Social Media

You can use the Twitter hashtag #mpg to follow what’s going on and Flickr users can tag their photos with this Upcoming Event by adding the tag: upcoming:event=4903212 to your photos.

trsq-poster

12 Noon
Saturday 23rd January 2010
Trafalgar Square

Facebook Event Google Map

122 thoughts on “Mass Photo Gathering

  1. Pingback: Photographer NOT a Terrorist | bikes and things

  2. Dennis

    It’s a crazy idea and perhaps might be difficult to arrange but it the police turn up in huge numbers we could all stand in a circle facing out and do an instant panorama. What a poster that would make if it could be stitched!

    See you there!

    Reply
    1. Monte

      all of you are going to get hell beaten out of you.

      the main pig does not want you taking his picture, because that might get him into trouble…

      if you want to get hurt, arrested and a police record, here’s your chance. you will accomplish nothing more. nobody cares what you “think” – only that you keep your mouth shut and do as you are told. and if not, they’ll shut it for you!

      Reply
      1. Tom McElvy

        Wow! That person has certainly been in the holiday spirits! Guys; although I am across the pond in the colonies, my heart is with all of you. The police are now overstepping and trying to take away your liberties. Stand up, do it politely, and write, call, petition your representatives. Hell, write the Queen!

        Best of luck to you, and I hope you will get some international press coverage (Fox News, CNN, ABC, NCS, CBS, BBS, etc) Be sure to send them regular press releases, and get them to cover it!

        Reply
  3. Tamianne

    This is an excellent idea!

    Two people close to me have been affected by this, one a professional and one an amateur (for photographing clouds of all things!). So, I will definitely try to be there and let others know about this.

    Reply
  4. Morgan Stanley's dog

    I’d be there, but I’m hundreds of miles away.
    It’s on my birthday, too, so I’ll be pissed as a fart and in no condition to take pshtcrsas.d

    Reply
  5. calmac

    Wouldn’t a number of parallel protests not be more effective?Similar protests could be held simultaneously across the UK, giving it a stronger impact.

    For those of us who are equally affected by this harrassment but can’t make the trip to London, is it possible you could arrange simultaneous protests in other cities?

    I’d attend a protest in Glasgow or Edinburgh and I feel this would give a greater sense of both the widespread nature of the problem and the depth of feeling photographers have about it.

    Reply
  6. Alan Baker

    I would’ve been there had it not been for a prior engagement I cannot miss.
    I do suspect that the police will ignore the photographers and simply do a ‘crowd management’ function. Once the photographers have all gone home they will go back to their old ways.
    What we need is unpublished events where one photographer is visible and two or more are close at hand taking photos/video of any proceedings. They will tire of being caught out.

    Reply
  7. Rick Hed

    You might enjoy Steve Bell’s take on this issue from the Guardian…
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2009/dec/07/steve-bell-anti-terror-laws

    And The Guardian’s Paul Lewis taking the proverbials out of the City plods: “From snapshot to Special Branch: how my camera made me a terror suspect

    Casual shots of London’s Gherkin attract stop and search just days after police were reminded street photography is no offence

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/11/snapshot-special-branch-terror-suspect

    Also from The Guardian’s Peter Walker and Paul Lewis, “Taking a photograph in a public place has become the quickest way to attract police attention, as increasing numbers of photographers can verify. But now it has emerged that anti-terrorism officers are uneasy about a far less sophisticated piece of surveillance technology: the watercolour brush and canvas”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/18/antiterrorism-police-stop-painter-airport

    Yopu couldn’t make it up!

    Reply
  8. Rick Hed

    A friend informs me that the latest initiative is for police officers to patrol in threes: one reads, one writes, and the third keeps an eye on the two intellectuals.

    Reply
  9. Michael

    If I could afford the fare I would be there-but will be in spirit. The odious practice of interrogating snappers has spread to Australia. Photographers have been questioned on Bondi Beach-a favourite location for busloads of Japanese tourists to let loose with their Canons.

    But an ordinary picture takers are questioned on a regular basis-one was even charged under a non-existent law with the case turfed out by a magistrate. Yet the local council still insists they have the right to prevent, control-or charge a fee for taking photos on a beach that is , like all Australian beaches publicly owned with local councils having no control over laws that dictate whatever actions happen on a beach. The fear is now spreading with innocent tourists being questioned photgraphing government buildings etc. Yet anyone can actually view a building or area via google street view ?

    Reply
  10. Mark Ingram

    Government and the Police appear to be mistaking Orwell’s 1984 for some kind of instruction manual. If we’re no longer free to take photographs without being hassled by the State then the terrorists have won, haven’t they? I’ll be there

    Reply
  11. Losticini

    I will definitely be there.

    Re. the “Gherkin Incident” – I did a quick search on the Internet and discovered: the names of key people associated with that building’s security, the shift patterns, the original specifications and locations for its security equipment, locations of perimeter CCTV cameras, info on IT arrangements, drawings of the building, and useful notes on structure, loadings, etc. Compared with that, photos of the exterior are nothing.

    As others have pointed out, no “survelliance” photos have ever been found in relation to recent terrorist incidents. The only possible instance quoted by the police relates to the alleged semi-covert use of a camera phone in connection with suspicious behaviour and even then the exact reason for its use is unproven.

    The logic therefore breaks down, but aside from that, the erosion of trust and of fundamental liberties is pernicious and needs to be highlighted. Unless common sense starts to be applied by more of the police, people will treat them with a increasing wariness that is deeply unhealthy.

    Their problem is that when it comes to cameras, the only use for them that the police can comprehend is for surveillance of one form or another. Ergo, anyone with a “good” camera is automatically suspect. This sort of failure of imagination is depressing and goes hand in hand with Authority’s never-ending desire to stamp its heavy boot on any kind of artistic or creative endeavour.

    Reply
  12. Ash

    Shame that it is on the same day as the EDL circus in Stoke,
    hard to decide but Stoke looks favourite to me, i guess this
    is on the thoughts of others aswell but wish you all the best
    and look forward to the next one.

    Reply
  13. Mark Wilson

    I hope to be there – was going to purchase a t-shirt from the shop too but the free shipping code of 23JAN was only valid for a week and expired on 21 Dec… any chance of an extension?

    Reply
  14. Ted

    The fight for the right to take pictures in public is a proxy for the defense of democracy in the UK.

    I would urge for massive civil disobedience. Take pictures of police officers all the time. Preferably with long telephoto lenses. Know your rights, refuse to be submissive, argue back, have the phone number to a lawyer at hand, report the arresting officer. If you are arrested, have a friend take pictures of the incident, if he/she is arrested a third person starts to take pictures of the second arrest, etc. If 1000s of people did this all the time the message to the establisment might just sink in.

    Reply
  15. Amy

    If I wasn’t going to be out of the country, I would definitely be there.

    This is such an important topic – wondering if anyone out there who is feeling passionate about it might consider talking at the next Ignite London in early March? For more details visit http://ignitelondon.net

    Good luck everyone!

    Reply
  16. bob smith

    I’m tempted to go to picadilly circus or similar one day, and start taking pictures. When I’m told to move off and I refuse, I could get arrested. If I do this, and am subsequently shown to be innocent of being a terrist, does anyone think that blip on my record would make international travel difficult?

    Reply
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  18. William K Wallace

    I was recently at Westfield shopping centre taking a few snaps of the hell hole, when the security asked me to stop taking pictures because I might be a a terrorist. What a bunch of jokers.

    It is time to make a stand and I will be there…

    Reply
  19. Mike

    Monte says:
    “all of you are going to get hell beaten out of you.

    if you want to get hurt, arrested and a police record, here’s your chance.”

    Way to knuckle under like a good little robot, Monte! Spineless supporters of fascist regimes everywhere salute you! Now go back to watching your telly and let the big people talk, okay?

    Reply
  20. Shalom

    Can’t make it for this protest – though I would love to be there. I’m embarrassed by this latest abuse of power by the British Police. They should be accountable and punished when bullying members of the public with this Terrorist photography crap.

    Reply
  21. Lee Wilson

    I won’t be attending – which is a pity as I live less than 15 minutes away (King’s Cross) and share the concerns and aims of this website/campaign.

    10-15 years ago this would have been a wonderful opportunity to have your voice heard, to make a public statement over an issue that concerns you, to meet others who share your concerns and so on . . . . but things have changed so much and with such speed that events like this are now little more than an invite to be harassed, intimidated, corralled, detained, arrested and even charged (regardless of you conduct).

    Protest is, of course, still perfectly lawful when conducted within the law, but the fact of the matter is that it is now not at all well tolerated by an increasingly hostile, political and confrontational police force.

    I have a 20 month year old son who I will be looking after later that day, I cannot afford to be shepherded into a police coral and detained for 7 or 8 hours, so protest (or even simply a gathering) like this is often off limits to people like myself – I am sure there are swathes of people like me who would also love to add their voice to this campaign but are steered away for similar reasons.

    Over the past 5 years or so I have been stopped 6 or 7 times by the police while out shooting (detained once) – and they have been almost universally aggressive and rude. About the worst thing you can do is to point out your rights – your right to take pictures, your right to anonymity and so on – to do this invites an hour long fishing exercise, where they will harass and question and prod and poke and test and push looking to trip you up, to find something, anything to use against you.

    This protest is playing their game to a certain extent.

    Reply
    1. Simon Taylor

      Interesting. Technically, section 5.5 would prohibit you from using a mobile telephone unless you use it with headphones. It might also be interpreted to stop you from even using a camera.

      You may not “use any apparatus for the transmission, reception, reproduction or amplification of sound, speech or images, except apparatus designed and used as an aid to defective hearing, or apparatus used in a vehicle so as not to produce sound audible to a person outside that vehicle, or apparatus where the sound is received through headphones;”

      Reply
    1. Lee Wilson

      **A Photographer says:
      January 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm
      It’s a Mass Photo Gathering, not a protest. Come along!**

      **Benn says:
      January 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm
      Who said anything about being a protest?

      It’s just a meet up of people who share a common interest. Photography.**

      Unfortunately you cannot simply define a gathering as you would like, if it is interpreted by the police as a protest (regardless of what you tell them it is) they will use SOCPA (Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005) against you.

      The SOCPA legislation does exclude Trafalgar Square from the Act (the location of the ‘gathering’) – but don’t let that fool you, the police don’t let small details like that bother them when it comes to protest – I have a broken Canon 5D body and chipped tooth to attest to that.

      Reply
  22. John Holyer

    “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible
    reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”
    Adolf Hitler

    Reply
  23. Sam

    I’ll be there, theres about 20 of us coming from my University, we’re all studying photography so of course this is very important to us.

    I just hope it doesn’t descend into something unruly if idiots turn up.

    Reply
  24. Sam

    Also, it might not be billed a protest but the majority of people who are going, are going to protest their feelings against the stuff thats going on.

    I suppose how its expressed is what will define the event. I’m going to show support and I’m going to be counted as a number, not to make noise or a scene.

    Reply
  25. paul

    Any link between the increased ‘terror threat’ level and the proposed demo? It makes nice ‘foil’ to use on any media interview…..

    Reply
    1. Martin

      Highly likely, given that the BBC are covering it.

      It costs the Government nothing to send out a threat escalation notice, it’s plausible given the current tensions, makes them look on the ball and it is a neat move to limit the damage that criticism like ours causes.

      Manipulating opinion through the use of state mechanisms that should not be used for such purposes has been a problem for the UK under successive governments and is a further reflection of the issues that we are highlighting today. Another example of unnecessary erosion of trust that could be avoided by the application of some common sense.

      Reply
  26. Pingback: Everything Hurts Blog Archive » We’re Photographers, Not Terrorists

  27. Freeman Photo

    When you find out that all Police authority’s are in fact private for profit operations, so are mag courts & the county courts, ie they all have a Dunn & Bradstreet numbers you then begin to realise why there are so many silly statutes on the books that are really just there for revenue collection.
    A “police man” can be either a Policeman in which case he use discression OR he can be a Policyman, carrying out the policies of his private for profit employer ie the Police Authority he works for. Most beat cops only act as the later, most of the time mainly through lack of knowledge on their own part.

    However they can not do much without your consent. so don’t give it. Much more info can be found at the following forums :-

    http://www.fmotl.com/forum/
    http://www.tpuc.org/forum/

    as well as many more that are out there
    Nothing is what you think it is !!!!!!!!!

    if you really know nothing about all of this, check out John Harris’s talks first on tpuc

    good luck today

    Reply
    1. Lee Wilson

      John Harris ! He’s bit of an idiot to be honest, his heart is in the right place, but all the freeman stuff is largely useless.

      Reply
  28. Lee Wilson

    Just saw the Sky News report, good stuff to everyone who attended, I wish I had gone now : ( but the coward in me didn’t like the idea an afternoon of shit from some gang of state goons erect on the knowledge that they can harass whoever takes their fancy – but from what I can see there was no real police presence.

    Oh well, next one then !

    Reply
  29. RM

    Good luck to all who went yesterday & thanks, on behalf of all of us who either couldn’t make it or were too intimidated to do so. John Holyer’s comment is particularly relevent. Thanks also to those who posted photos of the event.

    Reply
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  31. Ken Kaminesky

    Congrats to all who attended. We need to do more of these demonstrations to increase public awareness. I just returned from Paris, Barcelona and Rome and was stopped countless times for no reason by both police and private security. Rome in particular needs a demonstration, I’d suggest at the Spanish Steps. Bring tripods as well, for some reason the cops feels that tripods are more of a threat than just about any other object in creation.

    Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  32. Colin Hall

    Sorry I’m late to add something to this thread. Where would our society be without street photography? No Henri Cartier-Bresson, No Paul Strand … No Eugene Atget … I’d rather slit my wrists than live in a world of government led creative clampdown. Maybe it’s time to use the devious methods of 1930′s crime photographers again :-)

    Reply
  33. kate

    http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/5024297.Police_used_terror_legislation_to_stop_ex_RAF_engineer_in__Kidlington/

    Disquieting piece of footage over at the Oxford Times site. Stephen Russell, in his late 50s, was on a trip to buy fish and chips in Kidlington High Street when he spotted police swarming around. He had his camera with him and took four photos because it was unusual to see so much action in the village.

    An officer wrongly demanded the ex-RAF engineer delete the photos. Mr Russell rightly refused – it is not illegal to photograph police in a public place.

    He was then searched using powers under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act,.

    He recorded the incident. Go and watch the footage. It’s simply astonishing. Amongst other things, the fool of a bullying, overbearing policeman said, to a law-abiding member of the public who had done nothing wrong

    You are a stranger in Kidlington – tell me who you are – what is your reason for being here

    On what possible basis was any of that asked? We don’t live in a country in which the police can demand our papers, to state our business. Moreover, just look at the way this oaf treats a palpably honest and reasonable member of the public. The domineering “I’m in charge, you justify yourself to me” attitude is typical of the way that the police are working very hard to lose the confidence of the law-abiding majority, who no longer feel that they’re on our side.

    Moreover, what absurd bit of self-serving sophistry – total dishonesty, really – to use Terrorism Act powers to search this man. He was very, very obviously not a terrorist. It is behaviour like this that undermines belief in the government’s terror agenda and shows that powers such as these can’t be given to officers, because they abuse them. The officer should now be required to justify his use of Terrorism Act powers in this case and if he can’t, then he should be disciplined.

    Reply
  34. Christer

    I guess most of you reading this know about Magnum. Some of the best photographers in the world have been or are member of this co op agency, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Elliott Erwitt, Eve Arnold, Bruce Davidson and many more….

    If you go here:

    http://todayspictures.slate.com/20100416/

    you will be treated to a number of selected images from the Magnum Archives – a new selection most every day. In addition there is a link to Magnum Podcasts.

    When you look at these images you will surely contemplate that we are no longer allowed – or can – produce images like these..

    Christer Rosewell

    Reply
  35. Pingback: I'm A Photographer, Not A Terrorist — Everything Hurts

  36. Norwich Photo Guy

    I can’t believe that a government that records our every movement could ever protest at the general public taking pictures of the streets that they live in. Surely any ruling against public photography would apply equally to the use of ‘security’ camera’s.

    Reply
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