A ban on photography during concerts in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles has ignited debate on First Amendment rights in public spaces.
The National Press Photographers Association helped draft a letter that the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California sent to Los Angeles officials protesting a ban on cameras and recording devices in Pershing Square, a public park, during a summer concert series.
“Unfortunately, the NPPA sees these type of onerous restrictions far too often nationwide,” said NPPA general counsel Mickey Osterreicher, who helped draft the letter. “It is still extremely difficult to understand how the City of Los Angeles and its attorneys could believe they had the authority to contractually agree to a request barring photography and recording along with audio-visual devices from a traditionally public forum such as Pershing Square during certain events.”
In addition to the NPPA, the letter was joined by the Society of Professional Journalists/Los Angeles Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists/National, California Broadcasters Association, Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Photographic Artists, American Society of Media Photographers, Digital Media Licensing Association, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Professional Photographers of America, Radio and Television Digital News Association and Reporters Without Borders.
The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks has posted on its website this restriction:
Cameras/Photography: At the request of the artist/performer, video, photo and audio devices are prohibited at Pershing Square’s Downtown Stage Saturday concerts. This includes Pro cameras, monopods, tripods, selfie sticks, iPads or professional photography/video equipment of any type. This policy will be strictly enforced due to contractual agreement.
The parks department also requires a permit to hand out flyers at the concerts and the ACLU letter also protests this policy.