Thousands of amateur and professional photographers packed Trafalgar Square this lunchtime in protest about heavy-handed treatment by police officers under anti-terrorism laws.rnrn
Page One: Mass photo gathering delights organisers
Thousands of amateur and professional photographers packed Trafalgar Square this lunchtime in protest about heavy-handed treatment by police officers under anti-terrorism laws.
The ‘mass photo gathering’, which starting at noon, was organised by ‘I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist’, a group set up by professional photographers last year, in support of campaigns run by other photographic bodies including Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine and the British Journal of Photography.
The event – which was not billed as an official ‘protest’ – passed peacefully.
Official attendance numbers have been estimated at around 2,000.
Architectural photographer Grant Smith, who has been stopped several times under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act – and who helped organise the event – told us that he was delighted with today’s turnout.
However, at 12.15 there was a minor incident involving a PCSO and a woman, said to be an Italian student who fell victim to anti-terrorism legislation last year while taking photographs.
An officer was seen pursuing the woman as she walked away from the crowd.
The reason for the disagreement was unclear.
A fellow protester then shouted at the police telling them: ‘You are not welcome here.’
A Metropolitan Police officer who was called to the scene shortly afterwards (see image below) told AP that it was not made clear to him exactly what had happened.
Amateur photographers turned out in force, including many AP readers.
Among them Stephen Cotterell who told us: ‘It seems okay to take a picture with a camera phone or a compact but anything that sticks out [like a DSLR] causes problems. It has changed my attitude towards PCSOs.’
Stephen said that, when out and about, he now carries with him a document that states the law regarding the right to take photos in public places.
Asked what he hoped to achieve by taking part in today’s event fellow AP reader Peter Gray from south London (pictured in the portrait below) said: ‘I hope people [the public at large] will notice what is going on. Our civil liberties are constantly being chipped away.’
AP website forum moderator David White, pictured below carrying an AP ‘Rights Watch’ banner alongside fellow forum user Fen Oswin, agreed.
David, who had travelled from Oxfordshire for the event, said: ‘People have a right to take photographs in public places. So many people are being persecuted by police officers using the Terrorism Act.’
Media covering today’s event included BBC London which interviewed several photographers taking part.
Pictures: Chris Cheesman
Page Two: More pictures
Page Three: More pictures
Pictures: Chris Cheesman
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