As he explains in the video, he started to film what he thought was an increased security presence at the entrance for the Long Island Railroad, focusing in on an armed soldier who asked not to be filmed. Undeterred, Boots continued filming, at which point two of New York's finest step in and aren't so nice.
"Don't be a creep...now you're harassing him...Is that how you treat another guy in uniform?" One officer says, referring to Boots being a veteran.
Later, the officer makes the accusation that Boot's camera might be a weapon.: "Don’t point that camera at me again I don’t know if it’s a real camera or not…put that thing back in your pocket."
The cops detain him for a while, threatening to cite him for breaking the non-existent law of taking photos of a cop. The dialogue escalates from there.
Gothatmist talked to Boots this morning, discovering some more details:
Eventually, he was told to stand against a wall, surrounded by seven MTA cops and five armed soldiers, who were waiting to hear back on the radio what they could charge him with. He says they were disparaging him all the while—mocking his Italian heritage, calling him "special"—and when they found out he couldn't be charged for the photos, he was given a summons for disrupting traffic.
And although Boots was probably looking for a fight ( he's kind of a jerk) the cops seem blatantly out of line on this one. The NYCLU confirms there is no law against taking photos of cops, saying in a letter, "there is no requirement for a permit, no requirement for advance notice to the MTA, and no requirement for insurance" and Boots is right to stick up for some pretty basic First Amendment rights.
Boots has a criminal court date on August 3rd, according to Gothamist. He plans to fight the charges and use the opportunity to raise awareness of photogrpher's rights.
Video's below. Really gets going around the 1:30 mark and a lot of it is just sound, no picture, as Boots was instructed to keep the camera in his pocket.
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