In the spirit of promoting Citizen Journalism, here’s important empowering info from ACLU regarding taking photos and video in public.
Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply. >>Learn more
Your rights as a photographer:
When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. (more)
When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. (more)
Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. (more)
Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.
Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. (more)
Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. (more)
It’s recommended to read the whole article, which includes what to do if you are stopped or detained, special considerations for videographers, and shooting at airports.
UPDATE: SF Chronicle, “Flap over Oakland cop who covered name tag,” 11/14/11
The city of Oakland violated a federal consent decree to reform its Police Department when an officer (John Hargraves) at a recent Occupy Oakland protest was captured on videotape with the name on his uniform covered in black tape, an attorney said today.
Oakland should pay $5,100 in sanctions because of the incident, which was filmed by a civilian, attorney Jim Chanin said.
Chanin said officers have to display their name tags and that (Lt. Clifford) Wong apparently did not report the incident to internal affairs, as mandated by the consent decree.
Note: This means that not only Officer John Hargraves, but also his superior officer Lt. Clifford Wong, appear to have violated policy and engaged in misconduct.