Homeland Security spokesman believes it illegal

Carlos Miller

Homeland Security spokesman believes it illegal to photograph federal buildings

The reason why government agencies hire media spokespeople is to lower the risk of someone sticking their foot in their mouth.

However, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Take Luis Martinez, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security who told a newspaper reporter the following regarding the case of Randall Thomas, who was arrested two weeks ago for photographing a federal building.

“There are certain things that the press cannot do when it comes to national security, and filming federal buildings is one of them,” said Luis Martinez, a spokesperson for the Dept. of Homeland Security.

It’s unfortunate the reporter did not call him on his bullshit. Or at least demand him to provide a statute that would prove this.

But that’s the problem. We allow these allow people to pull laws out of their asses, so they actually believe what they are saying.

It’s only because of people like Thomas who take a stand that we are able to retain a sense of normalcy.

Last February, Thomas had another run-in with law enforcement officers in New York City. He came across a large group of officers near 8th Ave. and 42nd St. He heard yelling from the person who appeared to be in the center of the mass. He moved in closer and started filming.

They told him he needed to move back. They told him to stop filming. They ended up taking his camera and turning it off.

This is how he describes it in an email:

This lieutenant is in my face telling me that I would be and the justification for the shooting would be them mistaken my camera for a gun. He’s telling me this as he’s holding the camera. He looks to me like he’s about to smash it. Again, not being aware of my environment, I don’t notice that there’s a civilian witness close by who’s attempting to peacefully intercede. I’m confident that he saved me at that point. The camera was given back to me and I was given a warning “Point that thing at me again and see what happens!”

So he switches the camera back on and you can hear him talking to the witness. A group of cops start following him. They walk into a McDonalds. The cops order them out of the restaurant.

You can hear the cops telling him to stop filming or get arrested.

As he walks away from the McDonalds, the cops continue following him. Thomas asks why he is being harassed. A cop tells him, “because I don’t trust you.”

Thomas filed a complaint with the New York Civilian Complaint Review Board. He is still waiting for answers. Here are more details he provides.

The case is number 200902024, the investigator is Stacy Frigerio. Even though I’ve provided her with the same video I’ve provided you, they still have not taken action. I gather this from a recent call from her wanting an additional video as if this one wasn’t sufficient enough to for them to have made a judgment already. Nor do I believe they have used there subpoena powers to gather recordings from cameras in the area, like the four NYPD surveillance cameras mounted on that street, or the numerous cameras that were recording inside and outside of that McDonalds.
I’d love for photographers who view your website to call the CCRB at (212) 442-8833 and ask them what they are doing in this case.

I’ll be calling Tuesday afternoon. Hopefully you will too.


Citizen Journalism