To Avert Lawsuit, MTA Pledges To Stop Harassing LIRR Photographers

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March 16, 2006 —  Under pressure from the NYCLU, the Metropolitan Transit Authority agreed this week to stop threatening people with arrest for taking pictures in MTA subway and train stations.

"We are happy to report that the MTA has recognized that there is a problem and has committed to taking steps to fix that problem," said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director the NYCLU. "Neither a legal ban nor an unwritten rule should stop New Yorkers from exercising their first-amendment-protected right to take photographs in the MTA system."

The NYCLU threatened the MTA with a lawsuit after it received reports that MTA police officers were threatening photographers with arrest for taking pictures in LIRR trains and stations, including Penn Station and Grand Central Station. MTA press officials had also told photographers that they must obtain a permit and have insurance in order to take pictures or film, despite the fact that the MTA has no permit scheme or insurance requirement for noncommercial photography.

The NYCLU notified the MTA in a letter last week that it would sue unless the agency fixed the problem immediately. In a letter of response, the MTA informed the NYCLU this week that the MTA’s police chief "will immediately be reminding his command staff that there is no photography ban ... and will be asking commanders to instruct their officers accordingly."

The NYCLU is working with the MTA to establish the details of the agreement.

Click here to read the correspondence between the MTA and the NYCLU. (Requires the free Adobe Reader.)