Photographers in Long Beach California just got a wake up call.
On June 30th, 2011 Sander Roscoe Wolff was detained for photographing the North Long Beach refinery. The problem? What he was shooting had no “apparent esthetic value”.
When questioned on this matter, the chief of the Long Beach Police Department noted that it is incumbent on officers to consider photography as a suspicious activity, and while there are no guidelines they must determining based on their experience and judgement as to whether or not the behaviour is “regular tourist behaviour”. Yes because holiday snaps are the be-all and end-all of the esthetic spectrum when it comes to photography.
Photography that doesn’t meet the discerning esthetic requirements of the investigating officer then gets lumped into a set of activities that need to be documented along with:
Attempts to acquire illegal or illicit biological agent (anthrax, ricin, Eboli, smallpox, etc.),” “In possession, or utilizes, explosives (for illegal purposes),” and “Acquires or attempts to acquire uniforms without a legitimate cause (service personnel, government uniforms, etc.).” Special Order No. 11 does not distinguish between how these behaviors should be handled and how (e.g.) photography should be handled.
So if they take their art seriously in Long Beach. Photography = Anthrax. So is painting the equivalent of poisoning?
Artists beware, the critics have gone and acquired glocks and handcuffs.