Fresh from his victory against Amtrak – not that he ever confirmed anything – Duane Kerzic hit the streets of Manhattan last weekend with his Canon 5D, looking for something interesting to photograph.
He thought he found it when he came across a group of Secret Service Agents in front of a popular Midtown camera store.
“These guys were all standing there in cheap suits and raincoats with dongles hanging out their ears and talking into their hands” said the man who became a poster child for photographers rights when he was featured on The Colbert Report last month after having been arrested by Amtrak police for taking photos for an Amtrak contest.
Kerzic figured someone famous or important was inside the store, so he stood around waiting to get a photo.
“This Secret Service guy comes up to me and tells me I can’t stand there anymore. He starts rattling off some law that I never heard of,” he said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Kerzic snapped away, taking several photos of the Agent.
“He knew I was taking his photo and didn’t seem to mind that,” he said.
The Secret Service Agent told a couple of uniformed New York City police officers to arrest him if he did not move at least another 40 feet.
“The cops told me they didn’t want to arrest me but they would if they have to,” he said. “So I moved back but it made me miss the shot.”
It turns out, the Secret Service Agents were protecting an unknown French diplomat.
He walked up to the third floor of the Patterson Street Garage in New Brunswick and took a few shots of the train below which he posted on his site when a security guard from the New Brunswick Parking Authority drove up to him and told him that photography was not allowed.
“He told that because this was private property, I was not allowed to take photos there,” adding that they spotted him through one of the various surveillance cameras throughout the garage.
“He told me I had to leave.”
So Kerzic continued on his merry way but made sure to snap a couple of more photos of the building once he was standing on a public street.
“That’s when he ran out and pointing his finger at me,” he said.
Kerzic wasn’t sure if the said, “Do you want to photograph me?” or “Do you want to fuck with me ?”
Kerzic continued snapping away before walking back to his car.
He arrived at his brother’s house and did a little research on the internet and learned that the Patterson Street Garage was actually public property.
NJSA 40:11A-19. Taxation exemption
Every parking project and all property of the parking authority are hereby declared to be public property of a political subdivision of the State and devoted to an essential public and governmental function and purpose and shall be exempt from all taxes and special assessments of the State or any subdivision thereof. All bonds are hereby declared to be issued by a political subdivision of this State and for an essential public and governmental purpose and to be a public instrumentality, and such bonds, and the interest thereon and the income therefrom, and all service charges, funds, revenues and other moneys pledged or available to pay or secure the payment of such bonds, or interest thereon, shall at all times be exempt from taxation except for transfer inheritance and estate taxes and taxes on transfers by or in contemplation of death, and in lieu of taxes by political subdivisions upon the property of a parking authority, the authority which owns or holds such property may agree to make payments to a political subdivision for the services, improvements or facilities furnished by it for the benefit of a parking project.
He then fired off an email to the parking authority and received a phone call from its executive director who apologized for the incident and assured him that they would begin addressing this issue with the guards.
“He told me that they were going to start retraining them that day,” Kerzic said. “That they will remind them during roll call every morning that photography is allowed.”
Only time will tell if this sinks in.