YOU CAN’T TAKE PICTURES ON THE TRAIN…I THNK…


I’ve contacted Metro offices at 713-635-4000 to find out if I can take pictures on the train. The operative seemed shocked that I would ask and said I don’t need permission. Then I told her what happened last night, and she said well METRO Police are the experts, and I should really ask them. So I called the Metro Police at 713-224-2677, and the first officer I spoke with told me that it was illegal for me to take pictures on the train. He explained that if I wanted to, I would need to get permission from MTA…written permission. When I asked if I was on the sidewalk would I be able to take pictures without a permit. Again, he stated no as it would also be illegal. I asked him what law I would be breaking. He said he didn’t know, but because of terrorism, I could not take pictures of the train. When I asked him what terrorism he referred to, he put me on hold and put me on with a supervisor who said the same thing.

When I asked the supervisor what law I would be breaking, and if it a misdemeanor or felony and what would be the nature of the charge, such as theft or driving under the influence, he admitted there was no law strictly prohibiting photography of the train, and that I would not be charged. He said what would most likely happen if I was taking pictures is detainment.

They would run my ID against their terrorist watch list, and if my name did appear on the list then they would take me down to the station, and wait for Homeland Security, and then they would probably release me as there is no law that has been broken. He said that if this happens to ask for a supervisor. Yea right, so what I can get tazed..? I don’t think so…

When I asked him what terrorism involves a private citizen taking images of the train, he said there have been several near misses where bombing plots have been foiled because someone reported a suspicious person taking pictures on the train. He said the media was not alerted to this, but it happens all the time.

So just to clarify, there is no law that prohibits photography of the Metro Light Rail in Houston, but Metro police have still been given the mandate to detain anyone they see with a camera. When I asked the officer, why would a Police Officer quote a law that doesn’t not exist..? He said he can’t control what each individual does when on duty, and he said to file a report if I want…

To some this might seem like much ado about nothing, but consider this, there has been no domestic terrorism since 9/11. There certainly hasn’t been any in Houston. These local police officers are clearly getting their mandate from Homeland Security.

This is a very clear violation of our civil rights specifically freedom of the press. If we don’t exercise this right, we will lose it. I encourage everyone with a camera, board the Metro Rail System and take pictures. Take as many pictures as you can as often as you can. Please post your experiences online and let’s take back our freedom before it becomes a legend. It’s up to you.

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2 Comments

  1. It’s good to see other Houstonians showing some concern over this growing issue.

    Thanks for posting about this.

    –Alex

  2. There’s one thing I’d love to find out: I know that in my home state (Washington), I am legally allowed to perform a citizen’s arrest for both felony level and misdemeanor level violations of state, county and city law that I am a witness to, and hold the violator until police arrive. But what I’m curious about, is how this pertains to federal laws. Is there such a thing as a citizen’s arrest for a federal level felony?

    If so, there’s a fascinating piece of legislation on the books. 18USC242 makes it a crime, punishable (depending on circumstances) by anything from a $1,000 fine to the death penalty, to use official authority to violate someone’s civil, statutory or constitutional rights. I’d be fascinated to see how a citizen’s arrest for a violation of 242 at the 10+ years in prison level makes it’s way through the courts…assuming a citizen’s arrest for a federal crime is valid, that is…


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