Rooftop Photographer Facing Serious Charges for Climbing Ben Franklin Bridge

Rooftop Photographer Facing Serious Charges for Climbing Ben Franklin Bridge

On July 25, New York-based Photographer Martin J. Romero-Clark was apprehended due to climbing Ben Franklin Bridge to take some urban scenic photos. As a matter of course, it is dangerous and an illegal act to climb on a bridge, but now he is facing three felonies, each may carry a sentence of up to seven years.

Recently, we all witnessed photographers and models climbing high buildings and most of these incidents had widespread media coverage, and yet rooftop photography has always been very dangerous, even causing deaths. Luckily, Romero-Clark didn’t have an unfortunate accident during the incident, but now he is in a very serious legal situation.

Romero-Clark is a professional photographer, originally from Portland, Oregon. After graduating college as a business administrator in 2010, he started living in NYC and started his career as a professional photographer in 2011. He had never been in a trouble or arrested before, and he had no intentions of doing any harm on the day of the incident.

On the night of the incident, he and his friend were spotted by the police around 12:45 a.m., and taken down by seven police officers after the bridge was shut down. After his custody, all his photography gear, including a Nikon D810, Nikon 24mm f/2.8, and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 was confiscated at Delaware Port Authority office and now he is unable to work as a freelancer due to absence of his gear, which put him in a serious financial difficulty.

After all that’s happened, Romero-Clark is glad that no one got hurt in the end and he is remorseful, but now he is waiting for his trial on September 13, which he will be facing serious charges that may affect his life. In the meantime, his friend started a fund-raising campaign for the legal costs of his trial.

You might call this an irresponsible or a thoughtless incident, but considering all the possible consequences, do you think is it fair to get sentenced? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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77 Comments

Thanks for sharing... with all the rooftop shooters in the world, there's the making of a great novel and/or screenplay in this and other stories.

Michael Jin's picture

Given only the information in the article, I highly doubt he'll actually receive anything close to the maximum sentence. As far as his legal woes, I find it difficult to have sympathy and I'm pretty disgusted that he's trying to raise money for other people to subsidize the consequences of his lack of forethought.

I'm going to guess that he knew before the fact that was he was doing was illegal and that he could potentially get arrested for it. Despite this, he chose to do it anyway and trigger a response from law enforcement just because he felt getting a photograph for himself was more important. I can understand that we may not all necessarily appreciate the full gravity of the potential consequences of our actions, but that fact doesn't (and shouldn't) absolve us of those consequences.

All things considered, I personally hope that he gets a slap on the wrist and that he learns his lesson, but I won't really be outraged if they decide to throw the book at him to set an example either. It's ultimately the bed he made for himself. I'm sure there are those on here that will feel differently and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that's my 2 cents on the matter.

i agree with you. do the crime, do the time. he knew what he was doing, if not he isn't so smart. i would like to see him get his gear back though.

Does he pay taxes? It's a public bridge. He should get to do what he wants as long as he doesn't damage it or hurt anyone else. Most laws are stupid.

true but it's still the law.

Anonymous's picture

Wow. I hope you never come to my city. What if he'd dropped some of his gear, which happens, or fell, which happens. What if it or he fell on someone else? So it's okay if he promises that nothing like that will happen?

Local media reported that they (Mr. Romero-Clark and an acquaintance) got frightened and were unable to get down. So the first responders essentially had to risk their lives to save them, while also shutting down the bridge to traffic during the incident. But the laws are stupid, right?

Lane Shurtleff's picture

Another self entitled idiot who doesn't think of the consequences of what his dumb ideas can cause.

Yes, it's a public bridge. It also has a walkway that closes at 9pm. I have photographic from there all the time. They were not on the walkway. They were on top of the tower. Also they has to climb a number of fences and gates to get up there.

now if someone stole your camera or car or beat you up, would those be stupid laws that were broken?

Sorry, Jonathan, but most laws are not stupid and even if they are you need to follow them. You Antifa anarchists living in mommy's basement don't run the world.

Yes, it is a public bridge. Climbing on it creates two problems. The first is that it becomes a public nuisance, particularly if the climber/photographer gets hurt. The other issue is terrorism, and that is a very real issue today.

Stupidity to the next level. There are reason that there are places that's off limit. Why not climb into sewer, other infrastructure? They are crown property, some area are available to the public, not publicly owned, it does not mean you can do whatever you want on it. What a shame he still ask for donation for his legal fee, try to get more money to waste other tax payer's money in court. I won't donate anything to his fundraising. Oh, what kind of professional photographer do not have back up gear, those not professional enough I guess.

Sean Gibson's picture

fund-raising campaign.... How hard am I laughing right now. I think a hefty fine would teach him enough of a lesson. Maybe 5-10k. It's New Jersey, I'm sure at least one car was broken into or person got mugged because these cops were dealing with his dumb ass instead of patrolling. Of course this kind of thing should all go into a charity fund, but instead it will probably go to pay for Chris Christie's lunches for the week.

Jacques Cornell's picture

"...taken down by seven police officers after the bridge was shot down."
They SHOT DOWN the bridge??? Must have made quite a splash.
Also, it seems unlikely his gear was "confiscated". I'd expect it to be held as evidence, then returned after the trial. Then again, there are some seriously draconian abuses of civil forfeiture laws in this country, so maybe that D810 has become the police department's new mugshot camera.
For more on civil forfeiture, see this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEpZWGgJks

Yes, civil forfeiture is obviously wrong, but so is hiring a foreigner to do a TV show to tell Americans how they should think and live in their own country.

@Jacques Cornell.

Jacques Cornell's picture

And your point is...?

I hope your photography is better than your understanding of either law or English.

Jacques Cornell's picture

And your point is? I hope your command of English is sufficient to make one. Because your screenshot fails utterly to address the distinction I was making between temporary and permanent deprivation of property. The question I raised is, will his property be returned to him or not? This simple matter seems to have evaded you entirely. Any thoughts as to whether his property is being HELD or CONFISCATED?

Jacques Cornell's picture

I don't really give a damn about the nationality of the reporter. It's the information conveyed that matters. Did you even bother to watch the video?

Then either you "don't really give a damn" of the right to self-determination of sovereign and democratic countries, or you simply feel that way only when it comes to America. Which is it?

I have absolutely no interest in watching a foreigner telling me and my fellow Americans how to think and live in our country. It's disgusting that any foreigner would think it is his or her place to do so. It's disgusting that that foreigner has taken a job that should go to an American. Any American who would think that that is OK is a traitor to his or her country.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

HAHAHA and your "rational thinking" is what all us 'Mericans need? Get a clue trumpanzee.

Assuming you're American, going by your profile location, why would you address another American with the derogatory "Merican"? Are you also anti-American?

As for your question, clearly I am supporting the view of Americans only having a say in our domestic affairs. Read more carefully.

One last note, why are you quoting "rational thinking"? Those aren't my words.

Yep, I support Trump on some policies. Guess what, that means I also don't support him on other policies. Funny how that works, huh? Just like with friendships and families.

Why is it, that every article I click on I find you trying to start a war in the comments? Does everything have to be politically motivated with you?

Clearly I'm not the only one that remarks, and is remarking, on politics and social issues. You're not forced to read and comment. It isn't your place to try and silence others.

This guy could not be more of a troll if his name was "Trolly von Trollerson" and his profile said he lived in Trollville, Trollistan :P

Just because you don't like what people say and are intolerant of them being able to say it in the first place doesn't mean they're trolls.

Jacques Cornell's picture

"you don't like what people say and are intolerant of them being able to say it"
OMFG, the irony.

Once again, there is a big difference between an opinion and foreigners meddling in America's domestic affairs by constantly telling Americans how to think and live in their own country.

Jacques Cornell's picture

There is no difference between John Oliver expressing his opinion and you expressing yours. Except that he backs his up with facts. Meanwhile, you seem to have no problem at all with actual meddling in American affairs by Russians. Hypocritical much?
Oh, and while we're at it, what did you think about Oliver's piece on civil forfeiture? You haven't said whether you agreed, disagreed, or even watched it. I'm betting you didn't watch it, and you just chimed in because you don't like uppity ferners. Unless they're Russian.