Nancy Genovese stopped her car on the side of the road across the street from the airport in an area that is open and accessible to the public, and crossed over the road to the airport entryway that is also open and accessible to the public to take a picture of the helicopter display. While still in her car, she took a picture of the decorative helicopter shell with the intention of posting it on her personal “Support Our Troops” web page.
As Nancy Genovese was preparing to drive away, she was stopped and approached by Robert Iberger, a lieutenant with the Southampton Town Police. Lieutenant Iberger demanded to know why she was taking photographs. Nancy showed the lieutenant her camera, but Lieutenant Iberger grabbed her camera and handled it “without care”. In an attempt to prevent the lieutenant from damaging the camera, Nancy removed her memory card, which Lieutenant Iberger confiscated. To date, Nancy’s memory card still has not been returned to her.
Lieutenant Iberger demanded that Nancy remain where she is, and he refused to allow her to leave. At this time, Lieutenant Iberger notified the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and the authorities at Gabreski Airport of Nancy’s presence outside the airport, and falsely and wrongfully informed them that she posed a terrorist threat.
You can read how the rest of this turned into a fustercluck. The charges were dropped but even then . . .
Upon Nancy’s release, Undersheriff Caracappa issued a press release in response to media inquiries, titled “Armed Woman Arrested for Trespassing at Suffolk County Gabreski Airport”, which falsely stated that Nancy had been taking pictures of the airport and surrounding security”, and that she became hysterical, and began “screaming and flailing around” when confronted. Undersheriff Caracappa also falsely reported that Nancy had surveillance equipment, 500 rounds of ammunition, and “scary weapons” in her car, and that she was a right-wing extremist and terrorist, and that she had been at the airport trespassing several times and had been warned to stay away. Upon further inquiry, it turns out that Nancy had never trespassed at the airport before, had never been warned by anyone to “stay away” before, had no “surveillance equipment” of any kind other than her point and shoot camera, and certainly was not a terrorist. Undersheriff Caracappa has refused to issue a retraction or correction.
Nancy has a federal suit against the Town of Southhampton and others for up to $70 million. Good. The same government that kowtows to Islam and refuses to keep secure our border to the south - but seemingly gives unlimited license to the TSA and Homeland Security - should be slapped for window dressing like this.
I have had my run-ins with "security" while doing street photography. Never with law enforcement, but the "rent-a-cops" who hang out taking smoke breaks by the delivery docks of buildings have seen me just walking by with my camera and have yelled out, "No photos! No photos!" I admit, that does act as a trigger to my cyclothymia and usually I snap a picture of them, just to piss them off - and usually, I ignore their yelling and keep walking. Huh, they never follow. Guess it is not that important.
I remember when I was an exchange student in the Soviet Union in the summer of 1980. We were given a stern lecture about what we could take pictures of - and what not to take pictures of, such as anything military. Screw that. I got some pictures of ships in the harbor after I wandered "off track" and those were given to the US Embassy (I had started dating one of the Marine security guards stationed there). But the average citizen did not do things like that because the stakes were higher.
I do not want to live like the average citizen in the former Soviet Union. And that means that people, places, and things out in the open in public spaces will remain fair game for my camera.