Friday 22 April 2011

Photographers plan flashmob protest at City Hall

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! (PHNAT), the campaign group set up to fight unnecessary and draconian restrictions against individuals taking photographs in public spaces, is planning a flashmob outside London’s City Hall.

It will take place on International Press Freedom Day on May 3, starting at 12:30. It is supported by the NUJ and the union's London Photographers’ Branch.

PHNAT is concerned many privately employed security guards are illegally preventing citizens from taking photographs and that areas designated as public realm are often privately managed spaces that are subject to rules laid down by the private management companies.

It says photography is banned in some of our most widely enjoyed public spaces, such as Canary Wharf and the Thames Walk between Tower Bridge and City Hall.

The mass gathering will highlight the restrictions on street photography in a public space. Photographers are encouraged to bring a tripod.

PHNAT successfully campaigned for the repeal of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (January 2011), however Section 47a has been drafted in by a remedial order to enable police to use stop-and-search powers when a senior police officer reasonably suspects a terrorist action will take place.

PHNAT says it is very concerned that Section 47a will be used against amateur and professional photographers, stopping them taking photographs in public.

An illustrated PHNAT pamphlet will also be launched at the event. Created by PHNAT and LPB members, supported by the NUJ, British Press Photographers Association (BPPA) and the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, it will celebrate the history of the PHNAT campaign.

Documentary photographer Marc Vallée, one of the founders of PHNAT, said: "The privatisation of public space is impacting on public photography. Private companies, with the backing of national and local government, are eroding the common law right of the citizen to take a picture in a public place. This is why we will be outside London City Hall on the 3rd May."

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