News Photographer Accosted While Working At Peaceful Protest

Roger Barone Photo- People sitting peacefully in the street.

by Alex Lloyd Gross

As Photographer Roger Barone was working last week during a large but peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, he was walking home. On his way home, he found interesting things or people and  he photographed them.

When you walk outside, no matter what kind of a day you are having,  you automatically give consent to anyone to take a photo of you. They do not need permission.  That could be sitting on your steps or working outside. There is zero expectation of privacy when you are outside.  Even less so when you place yourself in the vicinity of a protest.  That is where the problem came in.

As he came across a small group of friends sitting on the Ben Franklin Parkway, talking near the Art Museum, one of them stood up and demanded that the photo be deleted due to the fact that the photographer “did not ask permission”. See above paragraph.  Not wanting a confrontation, Barone walked away, when one of them popped up and demanded again that all photos be deleted.  As he then started to walk in a menacing nature towards the photographer,  his friends stayed behind,  He turned himself into a criminal by threatening to “take that camera and break it.” He then realized that he did not have the backing of his friends and he could get arrested for felony robbery if he tried. He retreated, scurrying back to where he was.

These people were not protesting, but they placed themselves in a vicinity of the protest.  None of the protesters he photographed acted like that. Not the ones shouting at the National Guard or the police.

This weekend,  Philadelphia Police Captain Campione  refused to let a man who identified as a journalist do his job while photographing and videotaping protesters at Marconi Plaza. It was there, that armed citizens protected the Christopher Columbus statue.  Other protesters wanted to tear it down. These people with weapons are armed patriots or vigilantes. depending on your view.  Some of them were opinionated on an interview.  You can see the disturbing video below.  In spite of multiple requests for comment,  the Philadelphia Police Department did not answer any emails, nor did they pick up the phone.

The city of Philadelphia used to credential journalists but they stopped giving out press cards in 2013.  This is what happens when you stop. The man could be a legitimate journalist or pretending to be one .Credible news outlets voiced their opposition when the issuing of legitimate press credentials stopped. Now you have corporate media, smaller, independent media and people that pretend to be journalists with no publications. The latter may upload their wares directly to social media, on occasion. These people are not trained journalists. That is conundrum.  If this man was acting in a hostile manner then the police were correct in removing him. The reaction of the crowd not wanting to be filmed is irrelevant.

Captain Campione used the excuse that “You are  starting a riot” when clearly, there was no riot about to form. There was some hostility  towards the camera by one male which was quickly diffused.   In fact, there were several officers standing around without protective headgear. The Captain was wrong to use those words and also to not properly identify himself when asked. “Badge number 35” is all he said. At times, equipment used  by amateurs  is not able to focus close. The remark of   “You can read it off my tag”  is not an acceptable way to identify yourself.    If if the police respond with a comment we will update this story.

Philadelphia Police released a statement via email  that reads “We are aware of the situation and it’s actively being investigated. No further information at this time.”.