Robbed on the 1st of may

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by edward_h, May 2, 2006.

  1. I was out photographing the several 1st of May rallies here in Sweden yesterday, looking for interesting shots. I photographed the Leftist party's, the Green party, etc etc. Then I went to the Syndicalist's rally (they're superleft or something). There were tons of police everywhere. Dogs and police vans and everything everywhere. Not all that many people at the rally, but I suppose those people are known for violence. So I take a few shots from my bicycle, cycle another 20 meters in front of the rally, take a few shots, etc. At one point this guy came up to me. He had a shaved head, a beret, tight jeans and an English-inspired jacket on. He asked me what/who I was photographing for. I told him I was photographing for the sake of photographing, an answer he wasn't satisfied with. So he continued hassling me while I continued trying to take pictures. "You know, some people maybe don't want to be photographed", he told me. My reply was to ask him what I was supposed to do about that. He left me alone after that. So I continued cycling/photographing. The shots weren't that great, but I kept hoping something interesting would pop up. So near an intersection I'm standing there with my bike when these three guys (all bigger than me, of course). They tell me that they don't like me photographing and that I should leave. They asked me if my camera was insured and that it looks nice. After seeing that I didn't respond to their threats they one upped themselves: they told me to get lost, cycle as fast as I can and that they had "given me a warning". I told them I wasn't going anywhere. There were police everywhere (although I wasn't clearly visible in the street, sadly enough, being behind a bus stop) so I wasn't too worried that they'd get violent even though I was sure these were the kind of people that liked to beat up neo-nazis and then boast about it on websites. "You're not allowed to photograph us", they told me. I told them that if I'm on public property I can photograph anything I want (except protected military buildings). When I asked then whether they would like to ask a policeman which of us was right, they hushed up. They told me that I had been photographed by them and that if my pictures were to appear, they would use the one of me. I don't what exactly what good that would be, but I can imagine (these people like to put the photos and addresses of neonazis up on websites...). I told them I was fine with that and that they had the right to photograph me. This seemed to surprize them. It's as if they regard photographing people as some sort of privelige that only the higher echelons of their communist society are allowed... Or something. I then backed up and continued cycling, with them following me. I then stopped at an intersection the police has cordoned off (for the sake of the passing rally), and the three guys came up to me and stood in front of me. They then repeated their threats on both my life and the destruction of my camera. I decided I didn't want any more part in this so I let the bike fall to the ground, backed up a few steps, lifted my 1D2 and photographed them all at 8fps. They backed up quickly, and it was then I saw that the one guy had take off the shade off my 16-35 (he had had his hand on the glass earlier, but I didn't think anything of it, stupid me. :(). I saw the shade in his hand and told him to give it back. He continued running into the crowd, where he disappeared. I found the nearest police officer and told him of the theft, but he said he didn't have time. I couldn't find the thief anywhere, so I continued following the rally, hoping I would see him. One of the three guys observed me constantly from a distance. So anyway, they reach their destination, and the observer tries to block my view which results in him getting sent to the sidewalk (off the street) by several police officers. Not being able to find anyone, I go to the police station where I make a report of the theft, give them the pictures of all three threateners/thieves and then go home. Those idiots cost me 50$ (hood from the 24/1.4 instead of the 16-35s normal hood), excluding freight. Now the thing is this: 1. These people probably weren't with the syndicalists (and the syndicalist party will probably deny that they know who these criminals are), so they probably won't be found. 2. The crime was committed under the noses of several police officers but they couldn't do anything. 3. I feel so extremely terrible that those criminals STOLE a part of MY camera (one could even say that it was because I was careless and let them come too close) that... *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#*. I feel terrible. Haven't eaten anything for 24 hours and barely drunk anything. I've had the/a camera within 50feet of me since 22 feb 2002, so the camera is my life. Kinda like my best friend. Someone taking something from the best friend, and me LETTING them take it, makes be feel not at all good. Since yesterday I've been replaying the scenario in my head again and again and again. Going over what I did, what they said, what I should have done, if I should have shouted to the police, etc. I'd love to hear someone say that I did the best I could, and that those criminals and their intimidation tactics don't work on normal people. Last night I twisted and turned in bed for several hours before sleep finally overcame me. There were several other photographers there. Even people with video cameras, why did they have to attack me? What did I do?
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  2. why did they have to attack me? What did I do?
    What you did, rather than trying to disengage from them quickly and without drama, was to engage in a confrontation and further anatagonize them. Yes, you were completely within your rights to be taking photos. But it sounds to me like you were more interested in proving something about your right to take photos than you were in actually getting good shots. From your description of events, you had plenty of opportunities to avoid confrontation without missing any good photos.
    And for what it's worth, I've had to wrestle my camera and my body away from a couple of guys who jumped me without provocation (though I think their motivation was more that they were a couple of belligerent racist assholes--they were just using the camera as an excuse; I wasn't even taking their photo). I'm sympathetic to dealing with a physical confrontation, but I think your strategy for dealing with the situation was far from wise. I've walked away from trouble on a number of occassions with a minimum of drama and without missing any great shots.
     
  3. Think yourself lucky mate. My house got broken into an they stole all of my photography
    equipment - around �14000 in total. so a shade is not a lot to lose.

    Just check the stolen equipment section fo this site to find out how lucky you are.
     
  4. You were luck to avoid personal injury. AVOID CONFRONTATION !
     
  5. Doh! I read all that just to find out you lost a lens shade?

    Dude, your lucky you did not lose some teeth and some pride after being beat to a pulp by three large guys.
     
  6. You did nothing wrong except assume that your right to free speech and expression was protection against forces of intimidation. These people appear to be skinheads but could just have easily been more legitimate forces acting under the guise of HomeLand Security. We've read of many examples of the latter in the press. You had a lucky escape, sleep well at night in the knowledge that you came away without physical harm. Next time you'll be more circumspect.
     
  7. It is indeed a temptation to stand up for your rights but in the current world you are likely to end up lying down for them. Discretion is the better part of valour.
     
  8. Thugs do not care about rights. Engaging in a confrontation over your rights with a bunch of thugs is both pointless and foolish. Would you argue with a mugger over your right to walk along peacefully without being assaulted or robbed? If you had the opportunity to walk away from the mugger without being assaulted or robbed, would you continue instead to argue with him about your rights?

    If you're going to shoot in public places where you'll be encountering people who present a potential danger to you, it's important to understand the distinction between situations where standing up for your rights is a worthwhile and honorable thing to do and situations where you're just antagonizing people who are looking for an excuse to do you harm.
     
  9. So, the idiots robbed you of a lens hood, and they, while outnumbering you 3 to one, didn't steal your camera, containing all the evidence of their robbery and assault, not to mention their faces
    Don't worry, Darwin will take care of them one way or the other.
     
  10. And, what you did wrong, is to call an inferiority complex-ridden bully on their bluff.

    You made him 'loss face' to his friends, and the only way he knows to recover it is to get physical. He cares about his macho image as that's the only thing he has, and you are taking it away from him.

    After the inital confrontantion, I'd probably go to a police officer and say you expect trouble afterwards from them. Make sure they see you going to the officer, and pointing to them. Even if the officer blows you off, they still don't know that.
     
  11. SCL

    SCL

    I think you overstepped the bounds of good judgement by engaging in confrontation when you had nothing to gain by it, and all to lose. You are lucky you only lost a lenshood. The second thing, a point on which others may disagree, is that when somebody doesn't want to be photographed (whether or not on public property)and tells you that, I believe you need to respect that right to privacy, or suffer the consequences. It's called decency and respect for others where I come from. Hopefully next time you decide to step into a potentially inflamatory arena for the purpose of photography you'll use better judgement and have a more productive and pleasant outcome.
     
  12. Milo...it was in Sweden...not the USA...
     
  13. I've been given a link to a page that has photos of me on it. It some "Indymedia" site.

    The problem is that they've classified me as a right extremist, together with some bullshit lie about me having a perverse interest in photographing leftist rallies.

    I'll be calling the police tomorrow. *sigh*

    It's pretty impressive that they've found a long haired right extremist that speaks swedish with an accent, and all this without asking me which party I belong to.
     
  14. Also: as others here and other places have said: I photograph them, they threaten me and I leave because they want me to. What does that tell them?

    That they can scare people into doing as they're told. That their tactics of intimidation work. That their terrorism makes people change.

    Unfortunately for them, I've come to the conclusion that standing my legal ground was the correct thing to do. By folding into their demands I would have lost any moral ground I might have and would further strengthen those criminals. That gained strength would then be used against others and then it would snowball from there.

    Calling their macho bluff and then taking a beating if necessary was my only option. I was waiting for their attack (literally waiting for it at times) only because there were several hundred police officers in the vicinity. Had there not been any police backup and had three random thugs threatened me for no real reason, I hope I would be headclear enough to defend myself first.

    As it was, this being a rally in broad daylight, fully arranged with the police, I had a legal right to be there, a legal right to photograph the rally and any wrongdoing was clearly only from their side. Threatening people and their property isn't legal in Sweden.

    As people in the Swedish discussion forums have said: give in to them and you're telling them they're in the right.
     
  15. I think that evil triumphs when good people do nothing to stop them.
     
  16. Well, good luck. Just be aware of the typical reaction a challenged bully will have and be prepared for it next time.

    You said it was on an 'indymedia' server? I think you can upload whatever you want to it; it's supposed to be uncensored. Present your side of the history in it, complete with the photos of the idiots. Add some commentaries on the fascist behaviour shown on that rally against poor art practitioner, ask what differences are between them and neonazis. Challenge their commitment to liberty and free expression, the works.
     
  17. Edward H - I didn't read any of the other replies, just your initial post. I'll go back and read the others next. I sympathize with you. A very similar thing happened to me yesterday when I was downtown Los Angeles photographing the May 1st rally and boycott in front of LA city hall. Most everyone was friendly. It was a celebration as well as a demonstration and people came with their families. One group in masks I had placed in my foreground as a parade was marching by in the background and I took one shot. One of the masked figures in my foreground came up to me, followed by the rest of her group. She got right in my face and said "next time you photograph someone you better ask first." I tried to explain that I was looking for candid shots and to ask people defeated that intent. But she didn't want to hear it. I tried to explain that when on public property (we were in the middle of the street) you don't need permission to photograph. She still didn't want to hear what I had to say. As this person got even more aggressive I thought to myself: "f*ck you" but I didn't say it. Instead I gave her a look of disgust that I was feeling and walked away. There were police less than 50 feet away. I wasn't able to get the assault out of my mind and kept chewing on it, over and over. Then I walked to my car and went home, feeling pretty down about it. Today I am calmer and figure that this small group had a probleme with aggression; maybe even felt empowered by their numbers. But that it was basically their problem and not mine. When I was at the April 10th demonstration I came very close to getting my entire camera bag stollen by two young Mexican youths working together. Again I escaped by the skin of my teeth. It is so hard to put those experiences into perspective with my support of the cause of undocumented workers that are the cause of these demonstrations in L A. I have a feeling I know what you are going through. Please don't let the actions of some tiny minority change what you believe and the causes you support. There are some bad apples but they are an extreme minority. 99.9% of the people at these demonstrations are peaceful. We both need to develop the nose to sniff the problems out before we get embroiled in them. And then to remain cool enough to extricate ourselves and walk away. Mean people need love even more than the others. Don't keep chewing on this bad experience. You only lost a lens hood. You came away intact with your kit intact. Please don't let their bad behavior get to you in a destructive way. Focus on all those peaceful people who were kind to you yesterday.
     
  18. I agree with Santiago. Indymedia is open to all. Respond with your photo & their oppressive, bullying tactics. Expose them for the hypocrites they are. Next time, if your ever in a situation like that again, don't engage. There are far more fruitful ways of dealing with folk like that. You may think your standing up to them, but all you are really doing is stooping to their level.
     
  19. ""You know, some people maybe don't want to be photographed", he told me. My reply was to ask him what I was supposed to do about that. He left me alone after that."

    a more productive answer would have been:

    "well thanks for letting me know, i'll make sure that you do not appear in any of my photos, if you wish. as for the rest of the demonstrators, i am assuming that they are here because they have a message that they want people to hear, so i am only trying to help them get their message out. but if anyone else lets me know that they don't want their pictures taken, i will be happy to respect their wishes. have a nice day."

    ...and walk away and take pictures from another angle. you're obviously not going to get any shots if you're wasting your time talking.
     
  20. Allan - That would have been an excellent response but you have the luxury of time and calmness to come up with the response. The problem in a situation like this is our blood pressure goes up because of the threat and we go into fight-flight mode and our mind takes a back seat. I think Edward H's experience is the universe's way to gently teach him how to be in this situation so the next time when the thugs are even more mean he won't get hurt.
     
  21. Big story for a little lens hood. Who cares. Buy a new one, and go to sleep. I've taken pictures at rallys, and in large public places with no problems whatsoever. Chalk it up to experience, take a nap, and forget about it. If you photograph 100,000+ people, you're bound to have a few confrontations. You have your arms, legs, and life. Like I said, forget about it, and go on with life. Mike
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  22. I think Edward H's experience is the universe's way to gently teach him how to be in this situation so the next time when the thugs are even more mean he won't get hurt.
    If you read Edward's followup post, you'll see that he hasn't learned anything from the universe's lesson or from the other people who given him feedback based on their experiences dealing with similar situations.
    Edward H. said: Also: as others here and other places have said: I photograph them, they threaten me and I leave because they want me to. What does that tell them?
    That they can scare people into doing as they're told. That their tactics of intimidation work. That their terrorism makes people change.

    What would it have told them if you had disengaged from their confrontation, moved to another spot, and continued trying to get some good photos of the rally? They threatened you and stole your lens cap right under the noses of a bunch of cops--if anything, they probably feel more empowered than before.
    Stephen Lewis said: . . . when somebody doesn't want to be photographed (whether or not on public property)and tells you that, I believe you need to respect that right to privacy, . . .
    Stephen, suggesting that people attending a public rally (something you go to with the expectation and hope that you'll be seen) have a right to privacy while standing there waving signs and making noise in a public place indicates that you have absolutely no concept of what privacy means. I suggest you consult a dictionary.
     
  23. "There were several other photographers there. Even people with video cameras, why did
    they have to attack me?"

    Natural selection. Other photographers are always pleased to have people like you around
    drawing the hassle while they get on with working. The technical term is "*X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* magnet".
    Life must be mighty dull in Sweden if losing a lens hood merits this much angst....
     
  24. Edward, you keep saying that police were all around and you seemed to feel comfortable that the thugs would not do anything.

    It takes a split second for somone to kill you! In rallies such as the one you were at there are thousands of people and the police can't watch everyone at all times. Group and gang mentality takes over people and bad things happen. To ignore this is dangerous. There is a time and place to stand up for your rights, beliefs, etc. Out-numbered 3 to 1 by thugs is not the time.

    I am not a photojournalist but I can tell you "Good" PJ's know how to get "among" a conflict and they also know how to survive within it. Think about it. You "dodged a bullet" and you are lucky to only lose a lens shade. Report/document the news, don't become it.

    Like others have said, let it go. It's not worth the effort and to continue to fight it is just giving them what they want.

    Jim
     
  25. "Think about it. You "dodged a bullet""

    Why the drama? He didn't dodge a bullet, he failed to dodge three badly dressed fat guys
    who (judging by
    the pic) had the collective menace of a baby chipmunk.
     
  26. "I told him I was photographing for the sake of photographing"

    with all due respect:
    you probably didn't even realize it at the time, but from the very first words you said to him you spelled out the fact that you have no respect for these people. all you cared about was your 'photography,' and these superleft thugs, as you describe them, and the rest of the demonstrators mean nothing more to you than their utility as photographic material. it doesn't sound like you made even the slightest effort at finding out exactly what the demo is all about, and what message they're trying to get accross. all you seemed to care about was your precious camera. even taking the pictures you wanted seemed to loose significance to you after someone had challenged you, and you decided you'd rather compare testicle sizes.
    if you show no respect to your subjects, don't expect them to show you any.

    hope that answers your question ("what did i do?")
    cheers
     
  27. 1) Even if it's just a lenshood, it's still his property. To all of you who said get over it, remember that when somebody takes your property. How mad would you be if somebody put a scratch on your car? Pretty insignificant right, but I bet anyone of you would be pissed and probably shout at the driver who dinged your car in a lot.
    2)At least he was standing up for his rights. Jerks who try to remove me from area's I'm photograping don't receive a positive response either. Be they cops, fire fighters or other people who don't like me there. If I'm in an area out of the way where I'm allowed, good luck getting rid of me. Whatever his reason for photographing the rally was, he was allowed to be there and he doesn't need to ask permission from anyone.
    3) Replace the hood, and keep on shooting. Good luck with getting yourself off hteir website.
     
  28. Gee, who would have thought a bunch of marxist rioters would have no respect for individuals or private property.
     
  29. You have photos of them. Photoshop them into wanted posters as child molestors and post them around the streets. Or make them wanted criminals for killing dogs or sexually molesting sheep or some such.

    Get even using the tools you have.
     
  30. Ok, late here again, not always easy to find interesting threads in a timely manner.

    As I laid down on a bathroom floor with a pistol to the back of my head in a hotel bathroom in Brasil, along with other guests, after my wife was stabbed in the leg, they relieved me of a M645Pro, an FM3a, an F4s, lenses, meters, filters, tools, gadgets, all a lot of hard earned money. One of the other guests (that had a young daughter hiding on the roof) with his wife and 7 others in the bathroom tossed me a small packet and asked me to "hide this, they'll kill me if they find it". It turns out he was a policeman, it had his identification and a pistol inside. The weight indicated that there was a weapon inside. I left it alone as I did not want to go to jail in Brasil for murder. Later I found out that it's ok to kill someone to protect your life there. After that assault, I swore I would never, never permit a person or group to take what is mine.

    Two years later I got my chance. Walking down the hill from the then under construction US Embassy in Angola, the police drove by and asked for my camera permit, (I was carrying a Contax 645). None is required, it's a common scam to extort money. As I was working there, I new enough names to drop and speak politly in Portuguese that I would comply with the request (to go to the police station to be extorted instead of on the street, but never did).

    One hundred meters further down the hill, a group of 5 young thugs wanted the camera and my bag. Pretending it to hand it over, I hit the first guy in the head with it (a reccommendation to contax build quality, it was unscathed), this fat old bald guy (me) then went ballistic and picked up a large rock and was ready to SMASH the head of the next guy, he flinched and started they started to run. As much as I wanted to, and was willing to kill him (as they were to me), I stopped. During all of this, I was hearing a car horn of a local guy that stopped to give me a place to run to. I didn't run, you can if you want. I did appreciate the lift back to the hotel.

    Last year I was drinking beer in a shack on the beach in Lagos, Nigeria. The folks there asked why I wasn't afraid of being attacked and robbed there. I said no, you just have to be aware of where you are. When they asked what I meant, I reached behind me and in one motion stood, grabbed a short handled shovel (not a spade:) and in one giant arc took a 10 inch slice out of the post holding up the roof of the shack, (the shovel edges were extremely sharp from burying garbage in the sand) and explained that if somebody wanted to rob me, they just had a serious problem occur. The Nigerians all laughed, but it did really scare the *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* out of them as it was not expected. Also, I carried a 14 inch Bowie knife stuffed down my pants, it was not visible with my shirt untucked. My Nigerian friends agreed that it was a good idea, an Embassy RSO that I met said I was asking for trouble, said I was crazy, irresponsible, didn't know what I was doing blah blah blah. It was his citizens that were kidnapped, I traveled Lagos at 3AM on a moto taxi and had a "Plan B". One hundred Naira to the corrupt traffic police, and a Bowie for anyone else.

    So to the people that think that it's better to surrender then to be injured, well, to each his own. I would rather die defending myself then live with a white flag over my head and a yellow streak down my back. I'll be in better company then you in the end, which will come for both of us. (I do like the idea of slandering the thugs with fake posters on every street corner "This man raped my daughter", or "This man is a pedophile". Leave the number to the police station, maybe you can ruin their day.
     

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