Libertarian photographer sues Dept. of Homeland Security after arrest for filming courthouse protest
Antonio Musumeci, a 29-year-old software programmer, videotaped the arrest of a Libertarian activist outside Manhattan Federal Court last year.
His lawsuit says that even though he was standing in a public plaza next to the courthouse, an inspector with the Federal Protective Service told him he was under arrest.
Musumeci was forced to sit on the sidewalk for 20 minutes, he says. His camera memory card was confiscated and he got a ticket for filming on federal property, a violation.
The ticket was later dismissed in Manhattan Federal Court, court papers say. His memory card was never returned.
Musumeci, himself a member of the Manhattan Libertarian Party, later returned to the courthouse to videotape other political protests organized by the group and made sure to stand on the public sidewalk.
Even so, he was again threatened with arrest, according to the lawsuit the New York Civil Liberties Union filed Thursday on his behalf.
“In our society, people have a clear right to use cameras in public places without being hassled and arrested by federal agents or police,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
“We understand the need for heightened security around federal buildings, but the government cannot arrest people for taking pictures in a public plaza.”
Calls to the Federal Protective Service and the Department of Homeland Security were not immediately returned.