Watch Where You Take Pictures

At least when you are in the United States.

Back in 2005, a University of Washington associate professor was pulled over by Snohomish police. Shirley Scheier, an associate professor of Fine Art, had been taking pictures of power lines. She was detained and handcuffed as part of the “restraining” process.

I have also taken pictures of power lines — fortunately without being harassed by the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on her behalf in 2007. The case was settled for $8,000 a year after a U.S. District Court Judge found the three officers lacked reasonable justification for their aggressive tactics in restraining Scheier. The City of Snohomish stands behind the conduct of the officers involved. Settling the lawsuit was apparently just a business decision based on costs.

Another example of the potential risks photographers take when they are out shooting. It is a bit of a stretch that a professor in her 50s was viewed as a threat by taking pictures of power lines.

You can read more about the case here, here and here.

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