Image © Olivier Laurent.
Organised by the I'm a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign group, the peaceful protest took place on World Press Freedom Day to highlight photographers' concerns over the "role of private security guards in the prevention of terrorism."
Increasingly, amateur and professional photographers are being prevented by privately employed security guards from taking pictures in public places and semi-public places.
The organisers chose to protest in front of London's City Hall because it is located in a privately-managed space, even though it is designated as "public realm." PHNAT says that these spaces "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."
The participating photographers delivered a letter to London's mayor Boris Johnson. It reads:
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.
Speaking to BJP in a video interview, Marc Vallée, a documentary photographer and co-organiser of the event, says that photographers have a legal right to take picutres in public places. Watch:
Despite a recent review of anti-terrorism powers conducted by the Home Office late last year and earlier this year, photographers fear that with the coming 2012 Olympic Games, as well as with recent geopolitical events, police officers and security guards will clamp down on photography in public places.
BJP understands that the PHNAT campaign group is planning additional events for the coming weeks and months.
For more information, visit photographernotaterrorist.org.
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