You Can’t Take Pictures In Public

Photography Banned in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland

That headline reads like a report from the Onion Radio News. Unfortunately, it’s all true.

“This past Tuesday I went to downtown Silver Spring, had lunch, and then took out my camera and standing on Ellsworth Avenue, I began taking shots of the buildings with the blue sky and clouds as a backdrop. Almost immediately, a security guard approached and told me ‘there was no picture taking allowed in Downtown Silver Spring.’ ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘I am on a city street, in a public place — taking pictures is a right that I have protected by the first amendment.’ The guard told me to report to the management office.

“There, Stacy Horan informed me that Downtown Silver Spring including Ellsworth Avenue is private property, not a public place, and subject to the rules of the Peterson Companies. They have a no photography policy to ‘protect them from people who might want to use the photographs as part of a story in which they could write bad things about us.’ And she told me that many of the chain stores in Downtown Silver Spring don’t what their ‘concepts’ to be photographed for security reasons.”

It appears that this street, Ellswoth Avenue, in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland is, in fact, a private street.

The complete story turns out to be more complex and even more stupid.

So, where does it end? Here in the DC area, people have become downright paranoid of cameras

It’s quite likely we’ll see even more claims of legal rights to restrict photography in public spaces where no law exists, often in the name of “homeland security”.

To try and slow down this obsession with limiting individual freedoms, Chip Py, the victim in this story, and a friend have formed a flickr group called DC Photo Rights.

Others who share the outrage over this stupidity are planning a protest on the streets of Silver Spring beginning at noon on July 4th.

I don’t live anywhere near Silver Spring (I’m on the complete opposite side of the District) but I’m tempted to join them.