In this day and age, most photographers, some police officers and federal employees may not realize that its every photographers right to take photos and video of federal buildings on public property. The easing of restrictions began when the New York Civil Liberties Union had looked into several cases of people who were wrongly harassed, detained and arrested by federal agents while photographing or shooting video of federal buildings from public plazas and sidewalks. In 2010, the NYCLU brought a suit against the US Department of Homeland Security in federal court to end this practice. In October of 2010, a judge actually signed a settlement where the US government agreed that no federal statures or regulations bar people from photographing the exterior of federal buildings. The US government agreed to issue a directive to members of the Federal Protective Service on photographer’s rights. Almost a decade later, the rights attained in this decision are recently being put to the test in what’s known as First Amendment audits.
We’re joined by an First Amendment auditor known as Johnny Five 0. During a U.S. Post Office audit for example, its like clock work, cue the angry federal employee saying its illegal to film inside the post office and demanding that he vacate the premises immediately. Then, a customer may come to the defense of the angry employee, then the police are called, and then but not all the time, the police arrive.
At this point, the police may already know about the case law or as its termed, they will receive an education. Overall, there may be a so called walk of shame, open acts of police abuse, but anyone watching this online receives an education. Johnny Five 0 will usually stream this live on the internet. He can be crass, entertaining, yet seemingly fair. He’s often with a group of other auditors and their audit locations include police stations, airports and prisons.