Only if the New York Times promises to bail me out of jail
Like many news organizations these days, The New York Times is asking its readers to do its work for them.
Its latest venture is a program cleverly titled “Polling Place Photo Project” in which they are asking readers to submit photos (free, of course) of polling places throughout the United States during the primaries and general elections.
“By documenting local voting experiences, online users can contribute to an archive of photographs that captures the richness and complexity of voting in America,” stated a Times press release, neglecting to mention that it would also save them a bundle from actually hiring photographers.
The creators of this project obviously have never been down to Florida, where basic First Amendment rights like photographing the democratic process will immediately lead to police tackling and arresting you.
In 2004, photographer James S. Henry was photographing voters outside a polling place in West Palm Beach when he had the misfortune of encountering sheriff’s deputy Al Cinque.
Cinque ordered Henry to stop photographing and tried to grab his camera. According to witnesses, Henry ran off and the deputy tackled him, punching him in the back. When Henry tried to pull out some identification cards, the deputy punched him again.
Cinque’s claim that Henry “tripped and fell” is not only one of the oldest lines in the Code Blue book, it was also refuted by countless witnesses.
Henry was arrested for disorderly conduct – an old standby when police can’t think of any actual laws that were broken – and resisting arrest without violence.
The charges were eventually dropped.
So my message to The New York Times is I would gladly photograph polling places for you, but only on two conditions:
- You pay me my photographer’s daily rate.
- You pay for all my legal expenses, including bail, when I do wind up in jail.
Thanks again to Enhager for the tip.