Yeah, so I was on the I-55 Bridge that crosses over The River and took this photo. There’s a pedestrian walkway on the south side of the bridge. I went up there one night with some friends and took this photo by leaning against a metal strut. You can see the ghost images of the bridge that’re caused by me hand holding the camera. The bridge literally bounces beneath you when large vehicles go past, just a few feet away from you.
The second time I went there, Daniel went with me and someone at the hotel just across the parking lot called the cops because I had a backpack and they assumed we were tagging. I saw the cops parked next to my Jeep, looking inside my car. Then he walked out into the grass by the bridge and starting looking for us under the bridge where most of the tagging is done. He was clearly looking in the wrong place and we easily could have just stayed where we were. Instead, we decided to go talk to him and see what the issue was.
We walked off of the bridge onto the grass, approaching sort of from his side. We weren’t trying to hide or anything. We approached slowly and made it clear we were there. He shined the light in our eyes and asked what we were doing there. Seeing as we both had cameras around our necks and my backpack had a tripod strapped to it, the question seemed a slight bit ridiculous to me but, we answered nonetheless that we are photographers taking photos of the bridge.
He said that’s fine, I’ll need to bring you to the light of the parking lot (where another squad car had now shown up) and search the backpack for spray paint. Fine. We followed him over. I opened the bag and clearly there was no paint. So, he let us go. As we were getting back into my Jeep, the newly arrived cop said something to the first. The first suddenly calls to me telling me that, “Oh yeah, you really shouldn’t be on the bridge anyway. It’s against the law to be on it or to take pictures of it. You know, terrorism laws and all.”
Oh. I see. Is that why that walkway is part of a state run bike trail?
Fuck you and you’re imaginary, fear provoking, vague references to “terrorism laws” that don’t actually exist. I can take a photograph of anything I want. I can take a photo of building, factory, or person that I want as long as it isn’t classified by the U.S. Government and something tells me that anything classified isn’t going to be in plain sight for me to take a photograph of it.
I fully intend to go back to the bridge and walk down that pedestrian path. I suggest you do to. Take I-55 and get off at the Metal Museum. Turn right at the hotel into the park. Walk across the grass and onto the walkway. It’s awesome and worth it. If the cops show up, tell them you’re taking photographs and that it’s a state sponsored trail with no posted hours and thus is open 24/7. Stand your ground. Tell them you’re calling your lawyer. Something.
Also, for more on violations of photographer’s rights and police intimidation of photographers, go check out Carlos Miller’s blog.