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Perhaps I Spoke (or typed) Too Soon.

Earlier today (OK, yesterday really), I posted a small blog regarding being able to exercise free speech, and being grateful for that, vs. being in China fighting Google and telling the public that Google is just bad, because they won’t censor.
Well, it seems that the Church Street Marketplace and the Burlington Police Department (because of their policy of just doing what is requested with regards to their Trespass Warnings Policy) don’t necessarily agree with the 1st amendment.
So the story.  A guy named Dan Scott (http://bit.ly/9ejUuu) who works for the IRS takes pictures on Church Street during his lunch hour.  The pictures are of people, families, men, women, etc., just people on the marketplace, in a public place, doing things that are normal to see in public.
In the State of Vermont, at least unless the law has changed since I worked for #Channel17, there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in public.  Church Street is owned by a municipality, so that ranks it as a typical city street.  That means that if you are on the street, you can have your picture taken and used, in Vermont, by the news, free press, or by anyone who has a camera.  That’s good news to me, as some of you may have seen my facebook post last week, which included a picture of the Ben and Jerry’s line.  If the law didn’t include protections for me, I’d be in trouble, there was several hundred people in line, when I took the picture.
So anyway, they, the fine folks that run the Church Street Marketplace, had this guy removed and warned that he can’t visit any of the 67 shops on Church Street for 1 year from March 1st, even though he violated no laws.
In a state that is fairly liberal, why would they do that?  Why would they send people packing?  Let’s not visit Church Street until they fix this.  By the way, I’ve noticed something.  I have not lived in the area for over 11 years, and for the first time since I moved, I can always find an easy parking space in downtown.  Wouldn’t you want to allow just about anyone, to protect your merchants?
By the way, it was one merchant that seems to have made the decision to barr the gentleman from visiting Church Street, Uncommon Grounds.  Who are you to decide for the other 66 stores on Church Street, that he can’t shop on any of the stores for over a year?  That’s crazy.  It’s almost like a crazy ex-girlfriend serving you with an “Order of Protection” with lies to the court about your communication with her (which hadn’t happened, as was substantiated by phone bills, as well as email server logs), saying you can’t visit the bar next to the restaurant you co-own with the woman, nor the pizza place or the barber that has cut your hair for over a year, but enough about my problems and soon to be tried in courts.  Seems courts don’t like it when chicks lie and use their “victim” status to get orders of restraint.   If I’ve asked you to not communicate to me, it’s not my fault you communicated to me, but that’s another post, probably after I get a court date with regards to what I’m talking about.  If you are the woman I speak of, you’ll get what I’m talking about, and I look forward to seeing you in court with regards to this.
Anyway, as a videographer for local Public Educational and Governmental (PEG) Access cable stations, I learned that in Vermont one has no reasonable expectation of privacy if they are in a public place, which included public meetings of government, or anywhere that there wasn’t a roof over your head (and sometimes that doesn’t even matter).  Why isn’t this guy able to take pictures?
I ask you business owners on Church Street, do you have video or photography surveillance?    This guy broke the rules because he took pictures and “made people feel uncomfortable”.   Well, your surveillance videos make me feel uncomfortable, so turn them off.  You are warned.  I shop on Church Street 2-3 times per week, and I don’t like your cameras, they make me feel like I’m being watched in a “creepy way”.  Turn them off, or face the music of a trespass warning.  Yes, seems stupid for me to say that, right?  then give it up, public spaces are public, so drop the trespass warnings.
BTW, I had this happen to me in Phoenix.  I was at a bar, sipping a drink with a friend of mine, when this lady kept taking pictures of him and I.  I simply asked her to stop taking pictures, she told me that she was going to delete the pictures, and aside from a couple of times when I had to remind her to not take my pictures, everything was fine.  By the way, instead of being at a mall, with Rent A Cops overreaching, this was at a hotel’s swimming pool, with parents and kids in their bathing suits.  No one thought the need to call the cops on her (she was there 2-3 times per week).  We just reminded her each time that we didn’t want our pictures to be taken.
Bottom line, get a clue.  A picture isn’t anything more than a picture, in public.  If it was at a pool, or nudist beach, or in a bedroom, or through your shutters at your house, with a nightlight on, then I get it.   Church Street, your policy is stupid, and I intend to tell the merchants I shop at, that I don’t agree with it, and that I will not shop there for a year, to show support for Mr. Scott.  To read the article, go here: http://bit.ly/aVdRcH
Bottom line, it’s not like this guy was sending pictures to the Rutland Police 🙂  To read about this: http://bit.ly/aOXNTQ.

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