Snapping the Silver Spring Photo Ban
Dozens of photographers and people who believe in the right to take photos in public spaces spent the midsection of the Fourth not sitting at home watching America reclaim the Mustard Belt--the world title in competitive hot dog eating--but out in downtown Silver Spring, where until recently it was forbidden to take pictures on what looks like a public street.
Yesterday's protest action--a simple stroll through the retail strip built by the Peterson Companies while taking pictures--is just one step in the grassroots effort to reclaim Silver Spring's center as a public space. The land is still owned by Montgomery County, but the lease under which the downtown development operates has been interpreted to mean that the developer may regulate visitors' behavior as the owner of a shopping mall does, restricting political, religious and other forms of public expression. But the downtown street that Peterson manages is different, if only because the public perceives it as a seamless continuation of all the surrounding public streets.
While this protest certainly sent a message to Peterson and the county, it will likely take a court challenge to assert the rights of people to treat downtown Silver Spring like any other downtown. The Peterson Companies had led some protesters to believe that the developer's new, more open attitude toward photography would include a "Welcome Photographers" sign out for yesterday's demonstration, but that did not materialize.
But the developer can be sure that any attempt to further restrict photographers will be well documented on the various local photographers' sites.
By Marc Fisher |
July 5, 2007; 5:56 AM ET
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