CJ: For the benefit of those photographers up in arms about your situation, can you explain what you mean by “respect”?
RS: You want to be respectful of the police officers space as well. We need to be conscious of our surroundings. Even as we’re protected by our constitutional rights – this is important [as photographers] to remember. However, in this case, there is no question that what I was doing was right. I’m never the one to say the picture is more important than everything else on the scene. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for “standing my ground”, and an officer is in the middle of doing his job and [because of interfering] and an officer gets injured as a result of what I chose to do. Just because I have the “right” do take photos. I would never do that. And that is kind of what the police are saying about me. That they have the “right” to charge me with obstruction of government administration. They are using that to say, ‘we can do whatever we want.’ Its unfortunate because Im the one who was totally abused. They fabricated these charges. And now it’s them standing their ground on the same kind of idea. I understand they want to protect their officers – but lets be reasonable. Im not saying that they are deliberately fabricating things – but this just didn’t happen. It’s absurd. And no one is trying to make it better. This is worst part of what they’re doing. No apology. They are just trying to cover their tracks. As an individual its frustrating. Forget being a member of the media or press. As a citizen it’s very frustrating. Its appalling to to my friends, its appalling to my family, its appalling to the next generation of journalists who are coming up to see that I’m not protected as a [NYPD] credentialed photographer who works for one of the largest newspapers in the world.
[This is why people are afraid of the cops. I’ve known plenty of them and they’re good folks as individuals. And it leads to me to believe that most police forces are therefore “good” in that they’re made up of individuals who, in my experience, are decent individuals. But… they wear a uniform and there are expectations, and they cover for each other far too readily when individuals do the wrong thing. And they have immense power to impede people’s lives far beyond the moment of contact.]