A loose coalition of phototographers and activists are calling for a protest this Saturday, December 18 at 1pm at Grand Central Station against the MTA's proposed ban on taking photos in the subways. Like so many "security" measures enacted since September 11, this seems to have more to do with social control than safety. Here's a clip from a press release by the Committe for a Free New York:
The MTA has proposed banning all photography within the subway system. This ban, first proposed in May 2004, was reported in September to have been shelved and forgotten, or at least that is what the MTA would have liked us to believe. Just before thanksgiving (timed when they no doubt believed no one would notice) the proposed ban was published into the state register, starting a 45 day 'comment period' for the public to give their opinion before this proposed ban becomes law....
This rule also does not address the fact that there are already many books and websites that document, in photographs and even blueprints, nearly every aspect of the NYC subway system. Simply stated, terrorists don't need to take photos of the subway system if they desire to attack it. The information is already out there. The horse has left the barn. If we allow the MTA to ban photography, what is next? Book burning?
The only people this proposed ban will affect are average New Yorkers, and tourists, whom will more likely than not have zero knowledge of this rule - and (if) caught and fined, will surely have nothing good to say about NYC when they go home. As even Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated in May, the MTA should 'Get real'.
By slipping the proposed rule into the state register just before Thanksgiving, the MTA clearly was hoping no one would notice. Unfortunately for the MTA, an out of control agency with no public accountability and a drastic need for reform, we did not take our eye off the ball and we will comment in the most vocal and visual terms possible.
Join us for a Photographers' 'Flash Mob' subway ride, Dec. 18th, 2004. Meet time is 1PM at Grand Central Station.
Bring your camera and a flash, ride the trains, and exercise your rights. The group's website, cfny.org is still being developed, but they look promising.
For background information on this issue, check out the Village Voice's article, Forbidden Photos, Anyone? as well as photo coverage of a previous protest by Satan's Laundromat, Joe's NYC, and Unrelated News.