Friday, October 28, 2011

Sheriff's Dept. Conduct Makes Los Angeles Photogs Shutter: Federal Suit Filed

Los Angeles County Sheriff's DepartmentImage via WikipediaBacked by the ACLU, three photojournalists have filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleging that the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and its deputies have systematically harassed, searched and detained them as the shutterbugs have attempted to take photographs in public places, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The 24-page complaint in Shawn Nee, Greggory Moore, Shane Quentin & the National Photographers' Rights Association v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. et al. seeks a declaratory judgment from the Court that the alleged misconduct by the defendants violated the First and Fourth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs, an injunction against the Sheriff's Dept. and attorneys' fees. The complaint includes two counts alleging violation of the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 (Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights), which in relevant part provides: "Every person, who under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of any State...subjects...any citizen of the United the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress...."

The alleged behavior by the Sheriff's Dept. deputies springs from "suspicious activity reporting" under the auspices of Homeland Security and counterterrorism. According to the Times article, documentary photojournalist Shawn Nee allegedly was detained and searched on Halloween 2009, after photographing turnstiles at the LA Metro system. Greggory Moore, a reporter/photographer for the Long Beach Post, was photographing passing motorists from a public sidewalk for a story in June 2011, when he was allegedly frisked and interrogated by deputies. Shane Quentin, a freelance art photographer, ran afoul of deputies in June for photographing oil refineries.

"TUOL" will watch as this case continues to develop.

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