ACLU to MTA: Let photographers shoot

ACLU says it will take the Maryland Transit Administration to court unless it "meets conditions"


By Michael Dresser
The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE, Md. - Christopher Fussell likes to take pictures of trains and buses. The 29-year-old Oregonian has shot photos and video of transit systems all over the United States. It wasn't until he came to Baltimore, he said Tuesday, that he was detained for committing photography.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland put the Maryland Transit Administration on notice Tuesday that it intends to file suit over the conduct of transit police in ordering Fussell and another photographer to stop taking pictures. The group warned that unless the agency meets a series of conditions by Sept. 1, it will take the MTA to court — where it expects to win

"Photography is expressive activity that is protected by the First Amendment," said ACLU staff attorney David Rocah. "If you are legally present, you have a right to take photographs."

Rocah said the ACLU raised the right to take photographs in 2006 after an officer ordered one of its staff members to stop filming at a station. He said the ACLU chose then to try to resolve the issue amicably — a decision the attorney now calls an error the group will not repeat.

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