Today is election day in Quebec, and last night my neighborhood rang up in the sound of casseroles banging in honor of the occasion. Last Friday night, I took this photo as I stumbled upon another student protest downtown.
The police were in the process of arresting these two people and had made a makeshift barricade, using themselves to get in between the arresting officers and the public, who were watching, yelling, taking photos, videos, etc. I was taking a few photos behind this line, and a police officer put his hand over my lens and stated that I was not allowed to take photos. I said I was as this was a public space, he told me I needed his permission, I disagreed, he disagreed, two spectators jumped in and started arguing with the cop. At this point I took a few photos of the police officer who said I needed permission, arguing with the spectators who said I had the right.
I have taken a lot of pictures of cops, and it has always, until this one incident, been relatively simple. I would go on a limb and say it is one of the easier groups to take pictures of. You can get close, and in general they are friendly to the camera. In this case I can only estimate the police officer was either ignorant or lying, both of which are not excusable considering his position. I’m not judging all cops by this one event as I have had so many positive experiences.
As an experiment, I asked the officer next to him a few minutes later if I was allowed to take pictures, he told me to do as I wish…