May 112010

THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

and by that time no one was left to speak up.

It may seem a little over the top to quote a famous poem/speech by Martin Niemöller in relation to the use of anti-terrorism powers against photographers, but repression starts with small things that gradually build up. Are we seeing the beginnings of a repressive state where many ordinary activities are made effectively illegal ?

Photographers (although not myself as I’m not an urban photographer) have continually encountered the anti-terrorism laws being used to harass their profession or hobby. Some police are using said laws to stop activities that are perfectly legal – even going beyond their powers and confiscating equipment and deleting images! And in some cases they are co-operating with overly zealous security guards who are contacting the police to “protect” private property from being photographed from the public highway.

There may well be a case for increased police powers to combat terrorism, but the misapplication of such powers to curtail legitimate activities is the first step on the downhill slope towards a police state. Once we get used to being stopped and searched for quite normal activities, we become more accepting of additional powers that go further – short term detention for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, detention without trial for those suspected of links to terrorism, detention for those who might someday have links to terrorism, detention for those related to those suspected of links to terrorism, executions when the prisons get too full, etc.

The following links provide more information :-

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