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Photogs Fight Back



It's happened again. L.A. Daily reported Monday that photographer Anthony Citrano was prevented from shooting personal pictures last Friday evening at Pacific Park, supposedly a private property enclave tucked along the municipally owned Santa Monica Pier. Sunday, a local chapter of the National Photographers' Rights Organization (NPRO) purposely tested its members' rights to shoot in public places in downtown Los Angeles. A group of photographers quickly learned how ambiguous the line between private property and public space is. As they attempted to take pictures in front of the U.S. Bank Tower at 633 W. Fifth Street, and the adjacent Bunker Hill Steps, they were confronted by a phalanx of security guards that work for the 73-story tower, which is California's tallest building and is managed by Robert McGuire Properties.

The encounter, recorded in the Discarted.com

video above, shows how guards try to magically extend the tower's

property line out toward the curb of Fifth St. and threaten to call the

police. One excuse given by guards from United Protective Services were

concerns over terrorism, but here the photogs laugh this off as

"playing the 9/11 card" because no one in the rest of the country has

even heard of the U.S. Bank Tower. In fact, as the number of public

surveillance systems increases while, at the same time, private

property owners become increasingly concerned about liability in the

form of lawsuits, "terrorism" has remained a reliable catchword to

prevent public access or even the gathering of concentrated crowds in

one place, lest they draw the attention of airline hijackers or suicide

car bombers.

When interviewed last week, Citrano described a previous run-in he'd had with a San Antonio cop  for merely snapping pictures of a canal.

"That

was verya  scary, encounter," Citrano said of the Texas cop. "He had a

9/11 chip on his shoulder. A lot of these restrictions [against

shooting in public spaces] are painted under this brush of 9/11."

But

the militarization of public spaces on Bunker Hill and adjacent areas

was foreseen long before 9/11. Nearly 20 years ago Mike Davis, writing

in City of Quartz, noted that "the defense of luxury lifestyles

is translated into a proliferation of new repressions in space and

movement, undergirded by the ubiquitous 'armed response.'"


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