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I no longer even try to keep track of all the incidents of photographers being roughed up and harassed by police. You would think, however, that the recent arrest of Robert Stolarik would have gotten more attention, if only because he was on assignment for the New York Times. Even the Times relegated the story to its regional news section, which I guess shows how much the Times values its photographers.
You can read Stolarik's version of events in this interview provided by the great Chase Jarvis. It certainly sounds like he was mistreated, I don't doubt that at all in fact, however I have to take issue with his strong emphasis on the idea that the police shouldn't have bothered him because he was a 'credentialed' photographer. The distinction between a 'credentialed' or 'real' photographer and an uncredentialed photographer is a false one. Sure you can get into certain events if you have a press pass, but if you've got a camera, you're a photographer. Simple as that. You have an absolute right to photograph the police, even while they're 'performing their duty.' If your know-it-all brother-in-law doesn't believe that, make him read this legal essay.
Let me also say that if you go through the full interview with Stolarik, you'll see he was not only injured during his arrest, he also had his equipment taken. I hope he gets well soon and gets his gear back. And that he sues.
UPDATE: Stolarik has managed to get his equipment back. That's a start.