Tuesday, April 14, 2009

“I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to take pictures."

CLASSMATE BRIAN ROMANELLI was enjoying the day when a guy started flashing his goodies at students.

Naturally, Brian started taking pictures.

When campus security came along and escorted the flasher off the fence along Broad Street, near J&H, Brian continued shooting. Until an officer told Brian that he had to stop.

Brian said, "I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to take pictures.”

The officer allegedly responded, "Not when the police tell you you can’t."

Then they cited him. The University Disciplinary Council found Brian guilty of failing to properly identify himself or to comply with the instructions or directions of a person acting in duly authorized university capacity. He was sentenced to a semester of disciplinary probation and 20 hours of community service.

By the way, the pictures? He was shooting for a class, Photography for Filmmakers.

Who is at fault here? Was he allowed to take pictures? Or should he have left the scene after police told him to go away?

UPDATE: read Brian's op/ed piece in this week's Temple News here.

28 comments:

Michael Gaudini said...

In my opinion, this is just ridiculous. I mean, I don't know the legal aspects of this situation, and whether the police legitimately have a right under these circumstances to tell a guy to stop taking pictures, but if they do, well, then they shouldn't. Its not like Brian was in danger and they were somehow saving him by making him stop taking pictures and leave the scene. They just wanted him to stop, and for me that's not a good enough reason. Aren't laws made for the benefit of the people, not the other way around?

-Michael Gaudini

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comment that this situation is absolutely ridiculous. The kid was taking pictures for a class, and granted he could have made the situation better for himself if he clarified this with the police officers, but either way, he wasn't harming anyone, nor was he putting himself in any kind of danger.
Whether or not the police actually have the right to tell someone to stop taking pictures, I don't know, but I think the only reason they probably cited the student was because they were simply annoyed. That's not a justifiable cause to cite anyone.
Personally, I think he should go for the appeal, if possible, and make it clear that he was taking the pictures for a class. He wasn't being disrespectful, nor was he actually causing any trouble.

Alexandra Strockyj

Anonymous said...

Brian wasn't in the wrong at all. Not only was he taking pictures for a class but he was getting some pretty good stuff, way to be at the right place at the right time. Some cops are just assholes, and bike cops are assholes on power trips who feel inadequate because they don't get nice little cruisers. I've had my problem with bike cops, we all have I'm sure. My sympathy goes out to Brian, sometimes the law just isn't that fair.

Rachel Stumpo

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense that a student - who is on campus - can be cited for trying to complete an assignment based around taking pictures. Campus police probably felt somewhat threatened by someone taking pictures and felt the need to do something about it. Something should be done to reverse or lessen his sentence

Zachary DiLanzo

Andrew Small said...
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Andrew Small said...

The class should applaud Brian for sticking up for his rights. The Temple Police and the UDC don't like to be questioned, ever. It's our duty as journalists to hold those in power accountable for their actions. The UDC likes to run by their own rules and seems willing to use any form of coercion necessary to put students in what they believe is their rightful place, judging from my own experience and others' experiences with the Temple's justice system.

How can journalists monitor the UDC or Temple Police when they hold so much power over students?

Sam Kelly said...
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Sam Kelly said...

Preposterous.

The thing that caught me was in Brian's TempleNews article, where he stated that as he approached the scene a not-so-friendly officer apparently told him to “Get the f— out of here,” and the proceeded to grab his arm and shove him away. Then during the follow-up meeting with the University Disciplinary Counsil, the officer denied it.

Brian should appeal. He was doing nothing wrong, taking pictures in public is legal and he was not a threat to anyone.

Just goes to show what happens to the man who does keep his pants on. What happened to the flasher? What kind of charge did he get?

Antonio Boone said...

I think Brian did the right thing by taking the pictures. He wasn't hurting anyone or disrupting anything. Photographers take pictures of situations like this all the time and on a much larger scale. He was on public property and had every right to take pictures of the stuation.

Emily Hunter said...

Wow, that is ridiculous. Brian was taking pictures FOR HIS CLASS -- and even so, there was no danger in what he was doing. I personally feel the cop had a power trip; his comments and attitude certainly sound like it. Fact is, the pictures were taken on Temple's campus for a Temple class. For him to get in such trouble is ludicrous.

Jasmine Taylor said...

The way the officer responded to Brian is absolutely appalling. It was a complete misuse and abuse of authority. And the Council found Brian "guilty of failing to properly identify himself"? The officer shoved his hand into Brian's pocket without even offering him an explanation! Brian, I hope you appeal this decision because the "crime" does not fit the punishment.

Megan Minner said...

Wow, this just shows one more way how the officers in our area suck. Seriously, they think that because "they say so" means that they have the authority. This is another one who should be put on desk duty. Where's his conscience?

Anonymous said...

I feel as though Brian was completely in the right by taking pictures. He was on a public sidewalk in a public setting. His punishment is totally uncalled for especially since he was shooting pictures for a Temple class. The police officers overstepped their bounds in my opinion by telling he could not. After reading the story in the Temple News and finding out that even after the event was over the officers approached him again while he was sitting on a bench down the street a ways shocked me. In my opinion the officers had no right to get physical with him and search him without reasonable suspicion. I personally believe that many cops, Philadelphia and University, let their power get to their heads and feel as though they are above the law. There was also another story that involved Temple police officers and the UDC and what I took from both of these stories is that the Temple police and the UDC are in need of being looked over and reviewed. This is ridiculous and way out of line.

Brett Snell

Alicia Grant said...

This is pretty unsettling. The police should be more concerned about the homeless people on campus (which personally drives me crazy and I think is unacceptable) rather than a student who is potentially exposing the problem.
Not only does this confirm my dislike for most cops, but I think it's pretty embarrassing that Temple sided with the cop who was so clearly in the wrong. I mean, if I'm paying to go here, I expect my school to at least defend me the most they can rather than take the word of some unethical bike cop.
Seriously.
I would have appealed that in a second. Or maybe even transferred to a different school that wouldn't throw me under the bus for something so trivial and unnecessary.

Jillian said...

I do not think the student was at fault for taking pictures. I think he should be allowed to take pictures and after finding out he was taking pictures for a class I believe the police are the ones at fault. Too often I believe the Temple police are power hungry and like to prove that they do indeed have power, so do things such as this. Brian was not at fault and should not be punished for taking pictures, or ultimately, doing his homework.
Jillian Wilson

Patty Giron said...

the police should have listened the student instead of throwing their balls in the air and saying they have the power to tell you what to do. Police are at fault, simple as that

nicholasderoose said...

Isn't there an avenue in which he could appeal. I totally feel that he did nothing wrong and there should be freedom of press. Did he identify himself as from Temple News?

Plus I think that most cops are power hungry pigs with big egos.

Brittney Corridean said...

This is the type of stuff I hear about the police that really pisses me off. They abuse their authority and think they can create laws just because they're involved with it. It's not fair to the student, and honestly I don't think what they did was completely legal, and if it is they probably made up some good bs to make it so.

Gianna Ciao said...

This is ridiculous and actually sad that Temple Police officers are behaving this way. In my opinion this student was harrassed by the police, in no way being protected by them. I am also appalled that he is on probation for the fall semester. The police if anything were giving less information than the student, they weren't answering any of his questions as to what he was doing wrong!

Katie Killian said...

I feel that at Temple University, there are so many classes that require the taking of pictures. Today alone, I was with a friend at the skatepark, where she was taking pictures of the skateboarders for a class of her's. One of the skateboarders was a friend of mine, and we asked if it was okay for her to be taking pictures. His reply was "Yeah, it's cool. People come by here everyday taking pictures for classes, and no one seems to mind, even if they don't ask permission." I feel Brian was okay to be taking pictures. I don't agree with his punishment at all.

Angelina Thoman said...

I find this appalling. Brian has every right, both on campus and in the "real world" to take pictures as he pleases, regardless of whether or not the cops were in the frame. The fact that he even received punishment from the university makes me embarrassed to be enrolled at an institution that blatantly ignored the constitution rights of it's students, and instead supports their unjust, clearly power hungry police force. This is not the first instance I have heard of, or even personally encountered actions taken by campus cops that were not only cruel, but constitutionally appalling.

check out this site - http://www.copwatch.org/

Anonymous said...

I also think that Brian was not at fault here. It was a public place and he was taking a picture? All the points that were brought up were valid to me. The cops were definitely at fault in my opinion!
Jess Kairis

Joshua Rultenberg said...

This is a perfect reason why the police's word is not always the right word. If a kid is taking pictures innocently, the he has every right to do so. Leave the kid alone, officers! Some moron was doing something inappropriate and instead of the law enforcement officers making a big deal about that, they come down hard on the kid! Are you kidding me?!

Mike Klugman said...

There's absolutely no reason why the police should have messed with Brian at all. Its perfectly legal to take photos in public. The police should have no ability to restrict this right without it creating obvious danger.

Brian said...

I say we stage an uprising! Some passive resistance, none of that fire in the streets looting business. If enough people stopped caring so much about facebook and television, and allowed themselves to think for once we just might be able to get some shit done!

Down with unjust authority telling us what we can and can not do!! Fight for what you want and the message may be heard.

Anonymous said...

I was real suprised when I saw this story. Police should be worried about many other things instead of a kid taking pictures. Maybe the cops were just bored?

Kurt Mauro

Sherrell said...

Umm yea this is crazy. I think the kid should've been let go. People ae too uptight nowadays. Im not familiar with the legal aspects of the situation either but I think that the sentence was a bit overdone and the cops were out of line. It's a free country....well kind of.

Anonymous said...

I was instructed to criticize the news article for a journalism class. I do not agree with my above statement and do not agree with my previous post. Please disregard.

Kurt Mauro