Ten years ago this week it was Occupy Subways as amateur photographers turned out en masse to protest the MTA/NYPD’s proposed subway photography ban. While the measure was indeed defeated and no photo ban went on the books, some police officers still enforce a photography ban, believing it constitutes suspicious activity. While other mass transit such as PATH enforce stricter controls on photographers, the MTA policy is unchanged and photography is still allowed, but flash and tripods are restricted.
From ten years ago. Much of what I wrote here was in a somewhat emotional state of mind, but I stand by my opinions:
Ostensibly fearing terrorism, the MTA and the Police Department have proposed banning all photography on MTA property (at present, tripods and flash photography are prohibited). Rather than have police officers do their job and investigate suspicious characters, the MTA would like to make things easier and ban all photography, suspicious-looking or not.
Make no mistake:the reasoning behind the ban is not all about terrorism; that’s just a part of it. It’s about the MTA flexing its territorial muscle, and deciding what ‘authorized’ images it wants to present. It wants to sanction those images, and it wants to make money from those images. In the last five years, websites like nycsubway.org, nycrail.com [now defunct] and my own have arisen, presenting hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of the NYC subway system that the MTA does not earn a speck of income from. It wants to put a stop to that, pure and simple, and the heavy arm of the Police Department will be brought to bear on amateur subway photographers (detractors deem them ‘foamers’) so that the MTA can control what they consider unauthorized photography of its property.
I’m not sure what good it will do, but an impromptu protest against this heavy-handedness was organized as a protest march met at the clock in Grand Central Terminal at 1PM Sunday, June 6th, D-Day. About 75 “photobloggers” and amateur subway chroniclers rode a loop from the #7 east to Lexington, downtown on the #6, west again on the L, north on the A, walking through Penn Station, and returning to GCT via the #2 and then the Shuttle. Whoever was left walked to a closed MTA HQ on Madison Avenue where the photo in the title card was taken. This was not your old-school protest with placards, yelling and screaming but a “flashmob” type thing where everyone gathers at a particular place and leaves almost as quickly. Marchers seemed to be met with bewilderment by regular riders, but a proposed story in the Daily News Monday may enlighten them.
Photobloggers meet at the clock in Grand Central
En route to the #7 train
You won’t be able to do this anymore if the ban takes effect
At one point protestors lined up against the wall in the Union Square passageway. Photographers will perhaps be lined up against walls and patted down starting later this year.
A documentarian was present to capture the protest.
At the Times Square Shuttle platform
I appreciate your input on this.
I am a big police supporter. In this case, though, they have signed on to protect the MTA’s property rights, and that ain’t right. Write your representative, your congressman, your priest, your rabbi, your analyst, and get this ban stopped. Thank YOU.
Written 6/5/04; reblogged 6/5/14