View Full Version : A No-Shoot Scenario?

May 7, 2012, 09:30 PM
I was reading a blog post recently about a photographer being accosted by a group of anarchists (apparently, they are real, I always associated the word with witch or unicorn).

As a photographer, it's sometimes my job to put myself in, let's say, tense situations.

The photographer was shoved by an anarchist protestor after being verbal threatened by her. After being shoved, he punched her and moved away.

These "Black Bloc" anarchists (I seriously giggle a little when I write it) posted on their own blog calling for violence against photographers. http://anarchistnews.org/content/nyc-ftp-police-press

So, let's pretend that you're a photojournalist covering a protest. It's your job. It's how you make your living. You are told by a protestor to stop taking pictures. You move away from that individual protestor and keep doing your job (which is protected by the Constitution). Then one or maybe two of them come after you (they are anarchists who don't believe in the Constitution). You can't move fast enough through the crowd to get away. Maybe you even tell them that you've stopped and it's not enough.

Pulling a gun in a situation like this seems completely stupid. You're not in war zone. Chances are the person standing next to you by this point isn't even part of the same group. One shot could at the very least injure two or three people.

So, what to do? Knife? Beat them with your camera? Pepper spray? Jet pack? Flare?

If you're not a huge guy and you find yourself in this situation (which could happen pretty easily in NYC right now apparently), what's your tactic? What's your tool?

I know that we always talk about the unlikely nature of multiple assailant violence, but this all hit a little close to home for me.

May 7, 2012, 09:50 PM
A really really nice Nikon with a great zoom. They dont just make rifle scopes. In all seriousness I would think oc spray before firearm, hands before oc spray, and most imporntantly brain before hands.

You could say something like "Hey I am helpi.g get your message out"

Regards Vermonter

May 7, 2012, 10:02 PM
I agree about the brain part.

However, these teenagers have been known to look for a reason to commit group or mob violence.

I remember back when I was doing photojournalism in high school, our photo teacher was very adamant about dont go somewhere dangerous. At the very least don't go alone. For those of us who were more talented and adventurous he realized he couldn't keep us from doing such things, so he always reminded us that the camera is not worth our lives. If all else fails, a 3-5lb (or more) camera on the end of a 3' strap can be a pretty wicked weapon.

May 7, 2012, 10:06 PM
You should not use any force until you have no other choice.
You should ONLY draw a weapon when there is no other choice.
You should never draw it for any other reason.
You should never 'show it' as a form of self defense. Draw only to fire!

As a photographer, RETREAT is always in your best interest.

When retreating, toss a couple stink bombs in their direction. Good ol' burning sulfur works greats.

If you're knocked on your a55 and you are about to be stomped on, reload often!

I would also never hit or push back. It seems that those anarchists are also recording and will edit/upload videos that can sway public opinion. For example, if they hit you and you hit them back...they will forward the video of you hitting them to every news station(leaving out the 1st 30seconds when they were threatening and hitting you). You'll look awfully guilty. This is how the occupiers turned some non-protesting citizens against the NYC police.... their out-of-context videos showing the after-effects of their anarchy which made the police look bad. The alphabet media loves taking videos out of context, and loves editing those videos....

Hire a bodyguard, or work together with other photographers. Don't work as an independent. You might need a witness on your side.

You can also contact the local PD on the scene and request to press charges against anyone physically or verbally threatening you. Back off and get them arrested.

If legal in that area, bear or pepper spray is also an effective way of stopping an anarchist loser. I'd also consider a stun gun too.

Some anarchists are allergic to peanut butter. I walk around with an open jar of Peter Pan and a spoon. That seems to clear out that OWS crowd pretty quickly.

Dress like an anarchist and blend in with them. Make 'em think that you're on their side.

Open Carry a Calico Liberty with a 100rd's of 9mm as preventive zombie control.

May 7, 2012, 10:10 PM
If you're not a huge guy and you find yourself in this situation (which could happen pretty easily in NYC right now apparently), what's your tactic? What's your tool?There's not a solution to every problem; there are such things as no-win scenarios.

In your scenario, you had a number of chances to get out of the situation safely and you chose not to exercise them until it was too late to extricate yourself safely.

I suggest that when things FIRST start to look ugly, you worry slightly less about your constitutional rights and your job and slightly more about keeping your hide intact. After all, if they beat you up or kill you, are your constitutional rights going to make the bruises and broken bones go away? Will having a job restore proper brain function or bring back your life?

May 7, 2012, 10:21 PM
I pretty much agree with all of you. If I knew in advance that a violent gang would be making an appearance, I'll strap a 300mm on my camera and climb a fire escape.

But what you'd be more likely dealing with is a small "mob" that quickly surrounds and turns on you.

Do they make pepper spray bombs? Something that would fog an area quickly. You get sprayed, but so do other 5 people getting ready to whip up on you.

I'm not afraid to use my camera as a weapon, but the flail went out of style years ago and for good reason. No control. When fighting multiple attackers, it seems like control would be important.

My thought was OC and my trusty knife. In a situation like that, you'd actually want the "fogger" type of OC. Hit them all at once. And if in the ensuing mayhem, someone gets close enough to be a threat, the knifes handle fills your fist for punches, and god forbid, the blade will end the fight quick.

I really need to put in that OC order, I've been meaning to do it for months now. This convinced me.

May 7, 2012, 10:47 PM
I think if you're surrounded by a small mob and you try to fog them with OC, you won't be in any shape to try to polish off the ones that get close with your knife. I can't see any way it could play out that you wouldn't get a lot of OC yourself.

I'd say your tool is situational awareness. Once you're surrounded by a violent gang/small mob your chances of a positive outcome get pretty dismal.

May 7, 2012, 11:01 PM
Photographers routinely carry several thousand dollars of equipment with them.

And theives know it...

One of the Black Bloc Anarchist comments:

did you know that a photographer's camera could pay your rent?

May 7, 2012, 11:26 PM
C0untZer0 - That's correct. Wrestling a camera away from a photographer is pretty hard if they have the strap across their body. Another commenter on that article mentioned cutting the strap to snatch it.

This is a common technique used by southeast Asian moped thieves (this is a real thing as well in the Philippines, Vietman, Malaysia, etc). They slowly roll up to you, and the passenger will slice the strap of a camera or purse and then they take off without ever stopping.

A lot of pros, including me, sew guitar strings into the straps of their cameras and bags. Just one string dramatically increases the resistance to cutting. Other wire works, too, but for some reason, the braided nature of guitar strings seems to work best.

Basically, unless you're will to seriously injure me, you're not just going to take my gear. That's not to say I wouldn't give it up if threatened.

Frank Ettin
May 8, 2012, 12:08 AM
John nailed it. Avoidance is the first line of defense. And sometimes, it you let things reach a certain point there's just no good way to be sure of a happy outcome.

May 8, 2012, 04:38 AM
I agree with the last few posts. If your employment causes you to come into direct contact with violent groups or confrontations: EMTs, media, firefighters, unarmed security, etc then you should avoid the scene or relocate to a safe distance.
You shouldn't take risks or put yourself into places where you might get hurt.
The legal or civil issues in these incidents can lead to a lot of problems.
I'd also state that any sworn LE officers who respond will question your motives or actions if you used force(weapons) on a group of people. I've seen many, many altercations where LE officers only listened to the "crowd" or bystanders who may or may not be honest.
In my metro area, a plainclothes LE officer was shot & killed by a bike patrol officer from another large police department during a college sporting event.
The young cop had no other weapons but his issued sidearm. He got into a struggle with several intoxicated college students and drew his Glock pistol.
A bike patrol officer saw the plainclothes police officer & shot him.
The bike officer was cleared of any wrong-doing & the young police officer's widow lost her wrongful death lawsuit against the large city.


Glenn E. Meyer
May 8, 2012, 01:27 PM
It's called an EBD - an educational beat down. And that's what you are getting when the situation is tense but you decide to stay there and talk about your 'rights'.

May 8, 2012, 01:50 PM
A couple of years ago I worked security at concerts/festivals. One photographer (a tiny girl) for some reason wanted pictures from out in the crowd. I see her just disappear, it took 4 of us jumping over the fence and holding each others belts to be able to get her. She had a shoeprint all over her pretty face and a very expensive camera shattered

Any big enough crowd can be dangerous even if they are not violent.

Frank Ettin
May 8, 2012, 02:16 PM
The topic here is dealing with dangers associated with crowds, not the perceived sins of journalists.

May 9, 2012, 01:17 AM
Situational awareness is more than knowing where the bad guys are. You also need to know where the good guys are.

Before I go on I'll repeat that I think the scenario as stated is very unrealistic.

Unless a crowd is moving through a choke point or an enclosed area, there will be room to maneuver. Check out video from the WTO, various Occupy marches, and the recent May Day marches. You'll see that while the crowd is marching it is fairly easy to move about.
It's only once confrontation lines are formed between protesters and police that it becomes hard to move forward. Even then a few feet from the front lines it's still possible to move laterally.

So after the first confrontation, move to a place that gives you an avenue of retreat to one of the groups of good guys, either police or march organizers.

In the scenario given, a small minority of anarchists don't want to be photographed. This in the midst of many peaceful marchers that want very much to be photographed. That second group also wants to be seen as non-violent. So the odds of them helping out someone being threatened are very high.