Accosted by the MBTA

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TheSonyEnthusiast Regular Member • Posts: 299
Accosted by the MBTA

So I've been trying to get back into doing photography after a two month hiatus, and am using this time to branch outside my comfort zone in doing night photography using my array of wide angle lenses.

After a long night of walking through Boston Commons, I took the T back to Alewife where my car was parked, cradling my camera while attached to the tripod.  Once I arrived, I went through the exit and saw this lady mumbling while looking at me, stood for a moment collecting my thoughts on whether to use the restroom or go to my car and get my ticket.

At this point I realized she was talking to me and telling me I couldn't be here unless I had a car, telling me I can't have my camera and a tripod, can't be taking photos, etc.  I got frank with her and told her that even if I wanted to take photos, there wasn't a thing she could do to stop me because photography isn't a crime and this is a public place.

She followed me the whole time attempting to invoke 9/11 as a justification for imposing her imagined authority and threatening to get Transit Police involved.  At one point I cut her off and told her I know my rights, that I haven't done anything wrong, and that if she is just doing her job, she should familiarize herself with the law first.

MBTA policy is very clear on photography:  shoot to your heart's content, after all the law permits it.  They say tripods aren't allowed, and if you're a commercial photographer you'll need a permit.  Even if my camera were attached to my tripod, not allowed doesn't mean 'illegal.' I was merely going from one place to the next, had the legs totally collapsed, and when I did set it down on the platform I was not doing anything to obstruct the few remaining people at 11:30pm on a Sunday night (perhaps no more than 5 people on this side of a 200ft platform).  95% of the time I was treating the tripod as a gimbal and resting it on my shoulder or arm.

My question is what should I do here?  Should I lodge a complaint with the MBTA?  Should I get ahold of the Transit Police regarding this matter?  Should I just let this slide and not bother?  The lady seemed totally unaware of her own policy and took umbrage with the fact I had a big camera in the station, with the tripod being a secondary issue.  The biggest issue for me here is her statements regarding how I can't be doing this and invoking "terrorists" as a justification for ceding away an individuals' rights, that are CLEARLY protected, to a government authority under the false guise of security.

Fun disclaimer:  I'm of Lebanese descent, so her statement has the added bonus of appearing as racial profiling, even if that wasn't the intention, that is how it appears.

Would appreciate everyone's thoughts on this.

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