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June 1, 2011

ACLU welcomes MTA's response on photography

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland welcomed the decision of the Maryland Transit Administration to disavow efforts of some of its transit police to prevent photographers from taking pictures of its facilities and the agency's vow to promulgate policies emphasizing the rights of photographers.

ACLU staff attorney David Rocah said Wednesday he was still waiting to speak with MTA officials about the decision by Administrator Ralign T. Wells but he said he was pleased by Wells' comments to The Sun in response to a letter he had sent the agency Tuesday threatening to sue over incidents in which MTA police sought to stop photographers from taking pictures of light rail trains.

"I'm gratfied and pleased by Mr. Wells' concern and appreciate his clear statements that what happened shouldn't have happened and that they would take effective steps" to prevent a recurrence.

 Rocah said the ACLU will still have to see how the MTA follows up before it can consider the matter resolved.

"Statements of policy don't mean anything unless officers and employees know what the policy is and follow it," he said.

Rocah said the ACLU looks forward to the opportunity to sit down with the MTA and work out details of a policy statement that would pass constitutional muster.

"The goal is not filing a lawsuit," he said. "The goal has always been to ensure that the MTA police, like all public officials, act within the limits of their authority and respect citizens' constitutional rights."

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:55 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Comments

Good! I'm also a railfan, and I've seen this video, and these MTA officers were over-reaching their authority. It was scary to hear the numerous references to the "Un"-Patriot Act as justification for their actions. I hope they are disciplined for their irresponsible lack of understanding of the laws they are supposed to enforce. BTW, Maryland's wiretap law only applies to places where there is an expectation of privacy. There is no such expectation standing on an MTA light rail platform with other people all within hearing distance.

It would be nice if the MTA would publish an official position on photography in the Sun, so we can have a copy to take with us.

I've always believed the ACLU was a load of crap organization. For once, I'm happy they have taken on something worthwhile.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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