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Pennsylvania Photographer Versus The Law.


Some of you may remember the post from a few weeks ago titled Photographer Vs. Security: The Ultimate Showdown. Well, it looks like yet another photographer has been harassed and decided to make light of the situation. Jason Macchioni, a Pennsylvania-based photographer, had a run in with police in his area and as is par for the course these days, tempers flared.

Macchioni was making a timelapse video on an overpass near his hometown when suddenly a few officers arrive on the scene to question him.

Everything appears to be civil until backup arrives, and then everything goes downhill from there. Macchioni knows his rights and stands his ground, which definitely bothers these officers. Eventually, they find out Macchioni is recording the dialogue – and that’s when it begins to get heated.

Just what, exactly, are law enforcement and security officers around the world afraid of? What will it take to put an end to this behavior? It seems the mentality is that if photographs are taken of public areas, the terrorists will win. Macchioni’s full description of the event and his thoughts can be seen below the embedded video.

“I was shooting a time-lapse which I’m still working on, I arrived at this site around 9 and was there for about 3 hours until these two cops rolled up! At first I was calm and refused to give ID, After the second cop was breathing down my neck and really threatening me. I gave in and tried to get them to leave. Then stuff got heated.

The first officer (Charles Tobias) was nice but just couldn’t grasp what I was doing after 4 explanations, He started to become angry when backup arrived, I guess so his fellow cop knew he was tough and could handle me? I gave him my ID even though I knew I didn’t have to, to try to make them leave asap, After the second cop (Cleland) notice I was recording become very upset, I guess he doesn’t like evidence when he breaks laws and infringes on a citizens rights. He also told me his dash cam and microphone was NOT on. Which I think you must have that on a call like this?
Officer (Harry Cleland) starting saying off camera that “if he wanted to hurt me he would have just came up and did it and stomped my phone and beat me up if he wanted too”. I told the officers I wanted to record to protect my self cause a lot of people being “mistreated” by the police. The officer (Celand) said well that’s mostly the “blacks” fault, People getting beat up.
He does not know Pa Wiretapping laws at all and my right to record! I have run into this cop before, I was shooting a car accident and this cop said ‘If you don’t leave, I’m going to confiscate your camera”.

So now I know he has a record of violating citizens rights!
After the video stops, He (Cleland) went on a rant about people recording cops and thinking “they” know the law and about him thinking “black people are the problem, cause of drugs and crime”. They left I took a breath and checked my phone, My heart sank further knowing it didn’t catch-all of it. It did catch one thing, Him (Cleland) threatening to arrest me for recording him. Which is against the law, Harry Cleland
These Cops need to learn the law when it comes to photographers, and I can’t wait for my public apology.”

Have you had a run-in with law enforcement while out shooting? What are your thoughts on these situations that seem to occur every other week? What will it take to see a change in perspective on the behalf of law enforcement? It is proving to be much more difficult than we ever imagined to spread the word that we’re not out to disturb the peace, we just want to make some creative videos or photos.

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