AAN Joins Letter Protesting Treatment of Photographers in Atlanta

AAN was one of 12 organizations who joined together on a letter to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed which protests the recent treatment of photographers by the Atlanta Police Department and asks for changes to the regulations which have apparently allowed harassment of photographers to occur. Specifically, the letter notes that Atlanta police officers are telling photographers that taking photos in certain public spaces is illegal.

In the most recent instance, the police officer apparently threatened to arrest a photographer and/or confiscate his camera. When questioned as to his authority to do so, the officer cited an Atlanta ordinance regarding “sidewalk photographers” which makes it illegal for any photographer to engage in the “business of taking photographs” that are intended to be offered for sale if the photograph is taken on a city street or sidewalk in front of a place of business.

We obviously believe that the ordinance in question is blatantly unconstitutional. For that reason and because police harassment of photographers (and reporters) in public spaces around the country continues to be a problem on a regular basis, we felt the need to push back against in this particular instance.

However, while we hope the message that “photography is not a crime” will soon resonate with law enforcement around the country, we do not expect this to be the last time we weigh in on this issue.

Kevin M. Goldberg is AAN’s Legal Counsel.