Veteran photographer David Hoffman targeted at G20 protests.

 David Hoffman put up with being pushed and treated disrespectfully at the G20 riots. When I interviewed him months ago, at the first protest at New Scotland Yard, he had said that there was “an atmosphere of fuzziness” and that the change in regulations was making everything “increasingly grey.”

 A few months later David Hoffman is featured in a short film by Ollie Wainright, showing how he is targeted by the police in the midst of the G20 riots.

To view the video go to: http://vimeo.com/3972898

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Nothing will stop them

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A man at the G20 protest got a bit huffy when I asked him politely if he did photography professionally. “What do you think?” he replied, seemingly offended by my innocent query. “Do you think I would walk around with a camera this big if it was just a hobby?”

In a way he was right; most amateurs nowadays own a small digital camera. But the G20 protest was so crowded by big professional cameras that I thought I should make sure.

Photography is now overly popular, so doesn´t it seem ridiculous to impede us from what should be considered a democratic right?

 

 

G20 demo: Not too much trouble for photographers…this time!

 

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Apart from being caught up for hours at the demonstration (see previous article) photographers and others associated with the press seem to have carried out their jobs succesfully, without too much interference from the police.
 
However some were treated disrespectfully. Photographer Nicolas Hameon described how he was abused.
 
He said: “As usual, I had a lot of trouble. The police pushed me and I even got hit.”
 
He added: “I tried to defend myself but I continued being pushed. It does tend to happen when everybody gets a bit nervous.”
 
But it is not all bad news. Most photographers were able to do their job without too many distractions.

 

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James Symmington said: “I do it as a hobby and haven’t had any trouble so far.”
 
Ben Mitchell works for Al Jazeera English. He said: “We go wherever the news is, and of course this week is very busy.
 
He added: “It’s all been fine, we’ve had no trouble whatsoever.”
 

 

 

Citizens- including press photographers- trapped for hours in G20 protest

 Security measures at London´s G20 demonstrations kept hundreds trapped in the area for hours- including professional photographers and journalists.  

 Cordon of police prevents people from leaving the square.
Cordon of police prevents people from leaving the square.

 Gil Kennedy said: “I’m afraid the MET police have a bit of a bad reputation for this. These measures of keeping people trapped are useless. In fact, they are likely to make things inflammatory.”

A cordon of police blocked the four only possible ways out of the Bank of England area. Photographers and journalists attempted to make their way out by showing their press cards but were prevented from leaving the square.Many decided to make the most of their time while trapped; photographers uploaded their photographs on their laptops and others tried getting a few more shots.  

 

 

 

 

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Press members sit around waiting to be let out. On the right, photographer Andrew Gordon.

 Photographer Andrew Gordon, member of the BPPA (British Press Photographers´ Association) said: “I’ve had no trouble at all today, and luckily, I never have.” Today, however, he did have to put up with what everyone agreed to be an excessiveley long wait.

 From the point of view of photographers, these measures represent the injustice media workers face in not being able to carry out their jobs without interference. More importantly, this reflects an increasingly unfair and undemocratic society.

 

 

 

 

Photographers and journalists: Will they continue to be harrassed?

 

Has the police’s approach to photographers already changed? What better occasion than tomorrow, in the midst of the G20 protests, to find out!
 
The NUJ (National Union of Journalists) is doing everything in its power to arouse awareness; to stop the police interfering with the work of photographers and journalists.
 
They have held conferences, published numerous posts on blogs, and written articles. Their intention is to make us aware of this situation, since, as Henry Porter stated in the Guardian: “terrorism laws have gone off the rails.”
 
Thanks to them, the police apologized to journalists for the excessive surveillance at Climate Camp, Kent. According to NUJ, the force’s Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas said: “We accept that police should not have filmed legitimate journalists or camera crews.”
 
However it is not all over yet, and we mustn’t raise our hopes until we see real changes.
 
Whatever happens, at least there is one thing we can be sure of: The NUJ will persevere until those changes happen.
 

Journalists and Photographers “harassed” at Climate Camp. Paul Lewis gives us an insight

 

Police have apologized to journalists and photographers. Their motive: for the excessive surveillance of journalists and photographers in the Climate Camp in Kent last August.

This was a protest about the first new coal-fired power station in 30 years. These professionals had a right to report on it, but unfairly found great difficulty in carrying out their tasks. They were treated disrespectfully and questioned for hours.

Guardian reporter Paul Lewis was nominated “Young Journalist of the year” in 2007, and has researched this issue thoroughly. He feels that what happened “says a lot about the police and their approach to journalists.”

I decided to visit the Guardian, to speak to Paul Lewis in person. Smartly dressed in black, he approached me in the modern-looking waiting area and sat down in front of me on one of the kiss-shaped seats, where I was sat clutching my note-book expectantly.

 

Paul is a busy man and did not have a lot of time to spare, so he got to the point quickly. His first words: “It is definite that the police pursued photographers and journalists.”

I asked him if he could explain how the police interfered. He answered instantly without a second of premeditation. You could tell he knew what he was talking about. “There are two things to point out.”, he said. “The first thing is that it was harassment.”

He added: “The second element is the surveillance carried out by the police.”

Paul expressed special concern for the amount of time media workers were held up. He said: “It takes a long time to occur, around 2 or 3 hours, which really interferes with our work.”

Paul Lewis has hopefully helped to arouse awareness. Police should be more conscious of the law because, after all, press cards exist for a reason.

Who should be given a press card?

 

In a conference at Jacobs Pro Lounge in New Oxford Street, Jason Parkinson gave his opinion about issuing press cards.

 

 

He talked about what sort of people should be given a card. “If you are a news gatherer that’s Ok, but it’s too broad.”

 

Jason added: “No way should you be given a press card just for being a feature writer. This card has to be tightened up because there will be more trouble, more terrorism and officers trying to get us off the street.”

 

He also talked about a card in New York for people who have been reporting hard news for five years. He said: “I don’t want to see that here. In a democracy you are either working journalist gathering news on the street or you are not.”

 

According to the authorities, you are issued a card if you are working “professionally as a media worker who needs to identify himself or herself in public.”

 

But what I ask myself is, even if you do have a press card, does it make such a difference? How many people have been questioned for up to an hour even after proving they are professionals?

 

The best bet is to act responsibly. Jason Parkinson said: “You don’t go to a demonstration with a cocktail in one hand and your camera in the other!”