The Photo Flap Moves to Rockville
The battle over the right to treat downtown Silver Spring as if it were a real downtown--that is, a public space where people have the right to express themselves as the Constitution guarantees--continues. In the latest chapter, the developer has announced--get this--a photo contest in which winners will get $100 in coupons for doing what the developer still insists it has a right to prohibit: Take photos in an open public space.
But now, the battleground shifts a few miles to the north, to downtown Rockville, where the new town center--also a private development spurred by considerable public investment--is also making noises about preventing citizens from taking photos in what appears to any reasonable person to be a public space.
Rockville mayoral candidate Drew Powell told the Montgomery Sentinel that a security guard stopped him from taking a picture of his son in front of the Rockville Library last week. Rockville officials say they consider their new town center a public space and have no desire to restrict photography or political or religious speech there. But an executive at Federal Realty, the developer of the Town Center, said that "there are some situations in which people taking pictures in Town Square might be asked to stop," for example, if someone sought to take photos for commercial use.
But Rockville city manager Scott Ullery, in an email obtained by the Post, said that when he contacted Federal Realty executives to check on their policy, he was told that there were no such restrictions on photography in the town center.
So far, so good. Stay tuned.
By Marc Fisher |
July 6, 2007; 7:42 AM ET
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