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Photography Is Not A Crime of the Day: The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department alleging the harassment, unlawful detainment, and improper searching of multiple photographers whose only “crime” was snapping photos in a public place.

“Photography is not a crime. It’s protected 1st Amendment expression,” senior staff attorney for ACLU SoCal Peter Bibring told the Los Angeles Times. “It violates the Constitution’s core protections for sheriff’s deputies to detain and search people who are doing nothing wrong. To single them out for such treatment while they’re pursuing a constitutionally protected activity is doubly wrong.”

In their suit, the ACLU cite at least six incidents involving three photographers who were detained while photographing in public.

In one case, as the video above shows, professional photographer and photographer rights advocate Shawn “discarted” Nee was stopped and searched by Deputy Richard Gylfie. The ACLU says Nee complained, but the Sherrif’s department did nothing.

Bibring says police take the post-9/11 policy of “suspicious activity reporting” too far, and demands a court order preventing the Sheriff’s Department from detaining people simply for snapping photos.

“Should we really ignore suspicious activity?” responded LA County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker when asked to comment. “We have an obligation to the public to answer questions and we are going to ask people why are you taking that picture. It is our duty to protect the public.”

The department would not comment on specific incidents. 

[latimes / bloggingla / thanks photo_la!]