Walking Past a Train With a Camera Is 'Suspicious'

Well, that explains it. It seems that the seizure of video recording equipment from reporters who traveled to the Twin Cities to keep an eye on police interactions with protesters was just an exercise in homeland security.

Minneapolis police spokesman Bill Palmer said the incident happened at 1:40 a.m. and that the group was stopped on suspicion that they were trespassing in a nearby railroad yard. ... Palmer also said the officers appears to have acted reasonably and would have stopped anyone seen near transportation infrastructure late at night.

How silly. First, walking past a railroad yard does not justify a "suspicion" of trespassing. Either the officers saw the reporters trespassing or they didn't. Second, does Palmer really believe that the police are entitled to stop anyone who is "near" a train late at night?

The "national security" spin still doesn't explain why the recording equipment was confiscated. Is homeland security compromised by folks who take pictures of trains?

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  • Display: Sort:
    Got to spend that $50 mil. on something. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by oculus on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:30:17 PM EST

    Deny, deny, deny. (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:39:15 PM EST
    Three New York videographers who had their cameras and computers confiscated by Minneapolis police early Tuesday morning now have all their things back.

    Well, almost everything, according to police.

    "They got everything back but the marijuana," said police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer.

    The head of the group, in turn, denies they had drugs on them.

    Honesty is not what we value.... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:44:53 PM EST
    we worship at the altar of sneakiness and the blanket denial.

    I wish we could be honest....

    "Yeah Sarge, that's my reefer, give it back with the rest of my property that you had no moral right to take."


    Reefer Madness (none / 0) (#15)
    by Desired User Name on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:26:44 PM EST
    ha! That reminds me of The Big Lebowski, when THE DUDE had his car stolen and he was telling the police that he hoped to get his Creedence Clearwater cassette back. Meanwhile the officers noticed he had a scattering of reefer on his coffee table. They told him "I wouldn't hold out hope for the Creedence." But at least they didn't confiscate his MaryJ.

    Yes the above is in the land of cinema and make believe, but so is THIS CURRENT ADMINISTRATION! I'm not at all surprised they'll be going ballistic in Minn. There are so many people who want to do them harm. Clearly people strolling around near a train at night, might not be a sleeper cell, but I'm not shocked they'd be treated as potential evil doers.

    All of America has been treated that way under the Bush Regime and McCain would continue to do so...

    One bright note is that the more BS they pull in MINN the less likely they'll be to pick up VOTES there come NOV.



    In NYC (none / 0) (#3)
    by lepidus on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:39:24 PM EST
    That's been a constant issue in NYC. It's been established for years that they can't ban photography on the subway, but anyone who tries it still runs into trouble. It's recommended that any subway photographers carry a copy of the legal decision establishing their right to take pictures of the subway.

    last night at the stadium (none / 0) (#8)
    by nycstray on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:47:08 PM EST
    they were interested in cell phones. Not our bags, just wanted to see our cells phones. We usually travel light, but my friend had a large purse with her and she had been worried about getting it in and at least expected it to be thoroughly searched. Nope, just show my your cell phone. I made the security guy comment on my dog that's on my cell background. Figured as long as he made me take it out, he might as well take a good look at it  ;)

    We have to be careful on photos of buildings also.


    Yankee Stadium? (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by lepidus on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:56:50 PM EST
    Do you mean at Yankee Stadium? From what I gather, their biggest interest is enforcing appropriate behavior during the National Anthem and God Bless America. They do this by violently ejecting people who have to go to the bathroom.

    HORRIBLE (none / 0) (#16)
    by Desired User Name on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:32:33 PM EST
    I had no idea this kind of crazy was going on!
    WOW thank you for that link.

    D@MN! I didn't know that! (none / 0) (#17)
    by nycstray on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:33:00 PM EST
    we're usually drinking during the NA and I guess we were lucky we used the restrooms before GBA! We did have a dead people discussion during GBA though. My friend thought they should use live people to sing it  :p

    I hope they don't try that (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jen M on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:33:34 PM EST
    With a pregnant woman.

    Dontcha hate.... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:49:49 PM EST
    being treated like a perp every time you attend a concert or sporting event.

    Yup. That's why I travel light. (none / 0) (#14)
    by nycstray on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:15:52 PM EST
    There are many railroad magazines (none / 0) (#4)
    by JSN on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:40:42 PM EST
    and railroad fans and they like to photograph trains. Evidently some of them have been stopped and questioned by the police but I am not aware that any of them were arrested or had their cameras sized.

    not working too hard to make this argument (none / 0) (#5)
    by wystler on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:44:06 PM EST
    The "national security" spin still doesn't explain why the recording equipment was confiscated. Is homeland security compromised by folks who take pictures of trains?

    freight yards have railroad cars filled with all manner of stuff: HCl & H2SO4, NH4NO3 ...

    and, yes, if one were interested in obtaining such stuff surreptitiously, maps & photos & videos of the layout would be quite useful in the attempt to circumvent security

    Didn't they bust a group that had (none / 0) (#9)
    by nycstray on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:48:35 PM EST
    info on the NYC gas lines or something like that?

    Oh please. (none / 0) (#13)
    by TChris on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:12:16 PM EST
    If it were essential to national security to keep train yards out of public view, they'd put up a fence, don't you think?

    I photographed the new stadium (none / 0) (#19)
    by nycstray on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:39:29 PM EST
    through a fence last night and from the subway platform. The fence was a block out style, but the gaps were big enough at the gates to get clear shots.

    Beyond that, anyone can (none / 0) (#20)
    by scribe on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 05:29:35 PM EST
    get all the information they might need from Google Maps.

    And, failing that, there's likely a publicly produced map in the local library showing all the tracks and everything.

    No, this was either cops who needed to make a bust so their bosses would see they really were catching bad guys, or a message to the press.

    After all, if they bust a guy in Beijing for playing the bagpipes near a substation, why not hassle the press here?


    In the name (none / 0) (#21)
    by jondee on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 05:45:15 PM EST
    of "national security" we seem to be slowly becoming the Thrrough the Looking Glass Image of our creditors the Chinese: hyper capitalists who act like communists as opposed to communists who act like hyper capitalists.

    The Sorrows of Empire, as Chalmers Johnson says.


    My brother is a good amateur photographer (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:45:53 PM EST
    who a couple years ago stopped to photograph some the of very cool bridges over the Merritt Pkwy in upstate NY, and the police stopped and gave him some guff, ran his info and sent him packing.

    Doesn't seem right.

    Hey, the US is a police state (none / 0) (#12)
    by pluege on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:03:03 PM EST
    any unjustifiable authoritarian act is chalked up to security reasons. No one can then question the veracity of the unjustifiable act.

    I don't understand (none / 0) (#22)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 08:42:19 PM EST
    your objections to the proper functioning of an authoritarian state...


    What the police should have said (none / 0) (#23)
    by reslez on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 09:35:16 PM EST
    There have been several explosions in the railyards over the last three weeks. The police are on high alert due to that and the convention. So yes, an unusual group of people near the trains will raise a  bright red flag right now. I agree it was high-handed to seize so much equipment.

    Reasonable Search and Seizure (none / 0) (#24)
    by Yellowben on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 11:55:59 PM EST
    Well, I want to say that the police had no authority to take those actions, but a part of me thinks it was justified. In this day and age there is a heightened level of attention paid to anything out of the ordinary.

    To everyone who thinks that the police have done something wrong here, I understand your points, but I have to respectfully disagree.

    To quote A.V.P.: "I would rather have a gun and not need it than need a gun and not have it."

    What if those random reporters had in fact been planning to hijack a train? Or bomb the tracks? If the police had in fact caught terrorists, this thread would probably be praising them instead of criticizing them.

    I don't think all freedom from random searches should be abandoned, but this is a special case. Random people, at a train station in a big city, taking photographs of the equipment, at ONE FORTY IN THE MORNING is bound to cause suspicion! It is NOT a common place to hang out at that time! I think the police were completely justified in their actions.