Citing a contractual agreement with
a band multiple bands at a free concert series, Los Angeles recently banned photography at any of the upcoming concerts scheduled to be held at a public park. The order violates the Constitution, which protects any United States citizen's freedom of expression in the First Amendment.
While a number of other high-profile run-ins with photographers taking photographs in public spaces have grabbed recent headlines, most cases involve a single government official (such as a police officer) demanding that photographs not be taken. Witnessing a city government — and a well-known one at that — creating its own rules in direct conflict with the United States Constitution is rare.
Los Angeles warns that the policy to prohibit "video, photo and audio devices" from the Pershing Square event will be "strictly enforced due to contractual agreement." Of course, the point is that this "contractual agreement" is one that the city does not have the power to make unless changes to the Constitution are made.
Dictating limits on recording devices is completely legal on private property, but this concert was scheduled in a public space. Both the bands and the city should understand they cannot and should not impose unlawful rules on the event.
According to SLRLounge, Los Angeles Collegiate newspaper photographer Cliff Cheng brought this to the attention of the ACLU after he was denied a press pass and any kind of permission to cover the event. The ACLU has written a letter to the City of Los Angeles, "urging it to adhere to the Constitution."
What do you think of Los Angeles' policy? Would you shoot the event regardless, or would you listen to the city's and the bands' requests not to photograph or record the public event?
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article cited the event as a specific concert with one band under contract with the city. However, it appears this is a concert series with multiple bands performing this Saturday, Aug. 12.