Some of the riders in the Critical Mass ride were stopped by police last night. The idea that they were blocking traffic, were impeding flow. A few members were taken to one side and lectured. I rode up on this and took some photos – and was immediately told by the police to stop taking pictures, that it was illegal. Of course, it is not. The police can be photographed and they can be photographed while they are doing their jobs. The limitation appears in the use of the images and whether the officer can be identified – and if so, why.
I think it is important to document these interchanges. It documents what officers are at the location and it places an immediate alert to them that their behaviour is being recorded – along with the civilians who have been stopped. I am absolutely convinced that recording these interactions is the best way to assure safety and best outcomes. And if the police can actually stop you from taking photos or videos of their interactions with the public, it gives them a sense of power and authority that, for me, is frightening.
I had no fewer than four officers approach me after the Critical Mass riders had moved on (I was sitting there doing paperwork) and demanded my identity card and then gave me warning about using any of the images. That I had been instructed to stop and refused to follow the instructions. I told them again that it was not illegal to photograph the police. .. They took my information and returned the identity card to me. I wished them a good night and that was that.