Photographer Harrassment in Calgary

Photographer Harrassment in Calgary

note: I previously pixelated the face, but stopped to be consistent with how I treat police or anyone else who harasses me while photographing

This picture is obviously out of focus, and I wouldn’t normally post it. But, I am, as I’m hoping the person in it, sees this, and reads this (I told him where to find my photos).

I was photographing a pro-marijuana protest rally in downtown Calgary that was in support of Marc Emery who is facing extradition to the U.S on marijuana related charges. I take lots of pictures of various political protests, of all types, and also non-political events. I noticed the man seen here (not associated with the protesters) taking photos of the rally, which is his legitimate right to do. I didn’t initially take his photo, as there was nothing of interest. But, he kept taking my photo (which is perfectly ok). So, I took his photo. That upset him.

He came up and told me that he’s noticed me taking his photo before at anti-racist rallies. I suppose I did, but didn’t initially recall him (I now sort of remember somebody who might be the same person). He told me that he and his friends are "veterans" and he hate Nazis. I explained that’s fine, and I also don’t like Nazis (like almost everybody). I mentioned that I’ve been threatened by Nazis for taking their photos in protests, which they don’t like.

I invited him to take a look at my photos, which are public, and read what I write, and see what I do, before he judges me. But, he didn’t want to hear that. Instead, he preceded to threaten violence if I take any more photos of him and his "veteran" friends. I’m not sure exactly how I’m supposed to identify who in a crowd is a "veteran" and who is his "friend". Unaware of the irony, he kept telling me how he has a photo of me, to which I kept saying, that’s fine, as I have his. I didn’t mention, that this will make filing a police report much easier, if that becomes necessary. I also didn’t mention, any future communication with him will be recorded wirelessly (so it can’t be destroyed) and shared with police.

Anyhow, I told him I have no plans to target him for pictures (I already got his photo). I will continue to cover public events. I do find it ironic how he behaved in a manner very similiar to a neo-Nazi skinhead seen here, who also threatened me for taking photos. Unfortunately, once the man in this photo determined his theory that I must be a "right winger" he had no interest in discussing things with me.

Moments earlier, an organizer for the pro-marijuana group thanked me for taking pictures (I happen to strongly support legalization, even though I don’t actually use marijuana myself).

It’s fascinating how people make presumptions of the intent of photographers, without any basis.

Some other silly accusations, questions, and sheer absurdity I’ve dealt with:

*Asked if I was a spy for the Chinese Communists, for taking photos of a rally critical of China.

*Suggested I worked for the Alberta government to suppress environmental protesters.

*A self-declared undercover cop thought I was endangering his life, because, probably like other people, I took his photo at a public televised Tienanmen Square rally.

*A pro-Serb/anti-Kosovo organizer feared I was a spy for the enemy (read: Muslim) at their rally

*A perennial counter-protester threatens me for taking his photo, and suggests I’m helping anarchists and Communists.

*A Calgary Police officer demands I delete photos of a violent arrest that could be used as evidence against the officer.

It’s always funny when people on opposite sides of a particular dispute are equally certain I work for the other side. It’s even funnier how often people on the opposite side are often not opposites at all, but just mirror images.

On a positive note, I’ve found the pro-marijuana protesters (who this man was not associated with) seem to be the most peaceful, friendly, and reasonable of the various groups I cover (sorry if that seems like I’m stereotyping). I don’t personally use marijuana, but support legalization. I figure the best non-scientific way of measuring the "danger" of a drug, is observing its users.

Location: 615 Macleod Trail, S.E., Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Photographer: Robert Thivierge

Date Taken2009-09-19 14:10:31
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This page was created by Rob’s FlickR Importer on May 20, 2021 @ 11:29 am EDT.