Brown Equals Terrorist

Ian Spiers, a photography student at Shoreline Community College, takes a few pictures of the publicly-accessible Ballard Locks for his class?(And yes, the picture above is of the Ballard Lock Railway Bridge, and the one that got Ian into trouble).

Let me be the first to admit to my total loss of composure. Eight grown men, five of which were in uniform and wearing sidearms, now surrounded me. I just had a camera, a tripod, and a bad flashback to Rodney King. You bet I was emotional. How composed would you be?
I gave the cop my ID, and it was quickly whisked away by one officer to the top of the hill. I went on to express my sense of helplessness, shame, humiliation and anger about the confrontation. I insisted that I was a photography student and that I had done absolutely nothing wrong. I acknowledged my constitutional rights. I pointed to curious bystanders, and pointed out that they had cameras, but that none of the police were interested in them. I identified a man with a canvas and easel, standing directly underneath the train bridge, and asked why no one was asking him for his ID. In retrospect, I realize that I still wanted someone to say it to my face.
The police officer had failed to rebut my arguments, but he was definitely being a lot nicer now (which was quite welcome). He’d been explaining how the SPD are required to investigate all calls, which I said I understood, but I was still looking for some real accountability. That’s when one of the three non-uniformed men stepped forward, brandishing his badge, and began talking at me with his own rendition of the voice of absolute authority.
“I’ve listened to this for over five minutes. Look here. You see this?” Special Agent McNamara said, producing his badge. “This is a federal badge. We’re not with the rest of them. We’re federal agents from Homeland Security…”

In my minds’ eye, I see a large group of people, of all races and skin colors, taking that same picture. I wonder how they would handle that?
Many thanks to Xeni at BoingBoing for pointing this out.

1 Comment so far

  1. Phil (unregistered) on July 14th, 2004 @ 6:01 am

    I’m thinking of opening a “bridges of Seattle” category on my blog. And, no, I’m not just trying to get tight with Meryl Streep.

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