Old 01-05-2009, 05:40 PM   #1
JimThias
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Default Photographer taking pics for Amtrak contest roughed up

Oh, for Pete's sake!

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Armed with his Canon 5D and his new Lensbaby lens, photographer Duane Kerzic was out to win Amtrak's annual photo contest this week, hoping to win $1,000 in travel vouchers and have his photo published in Amtrak's annual calendar.

He ended up getting arrested by Amtrak police; handcuffed to a wall in a holding cell inside New York City's Penn Station, accused of criminal trespass.

Kerciz says he was hardly trespassing because he was taking photos from the train platform; the same one used by thousands of commuters everyday to step on and off the train.

"The only reason they arrested me was because I refused to delete my images," Kerzic said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime on Friday.

"They never asked me to leave, they never mentioned anything about trespassing until after I was handcuffed in the holding cell."

In fact, he said, the only thing they told him before handcuffing him was that "it was illegal to take photos of the trains."

Obviously, there is a lack of communication between Amtrak's marketing department, which promotes the annual contest, called Picture Our Trains, and its police department, which has a history of harassing photographers for photographing these same trains.

Not much different than the JetBlue incident from earlier this year where JetBlue flight attendants had a woman arrested for refusing to delete a video she filmed in flight while the JetBlue marketing department hosted a contest encouraging passengers to take photos in flight.

While the Amtrak contest page does state that trespassers are subject to arrest and fines, it also states that contestants must also stay in the "public access areas", which describes the train platform because how else are passengers going to board the train?

As always, Amtrak reminds you to stay out of danger - stay away from tracks and the railroad right-of-way. Do not trespass on railroad property or on private property adjacent to the railroad. Do not climb or approach railroad structures, towers, or wires. Stay in public access areas, and away from railroad structures and moving equipment - in stations, on sidewalks, or in parking lots. All participants expressly release Amtrak from all liability for personal injury and loss or damage to personal property, and expressly assume the risk of harm. Remember, tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property - trespassers are subject to arrest and fines.

Also, according to a discussion on this same subject on a website called Trainorders.com, the July 23, 2007 Amtrak weekly newsletter stated there is no prohibition against photography as long as one remains in the public access areas.

"Security: While there is no prohibition against taking
photographs of Amtrak trains, photographs may only be
taken in Amtrak's public areas, not areas restricted by
signs, barriers or locked entrances. Non-public areas,
such as railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment,
are private property; trespassers are subject to arrest."

-Amtrak This Week newsletter, 23JUL07

Furthermore, this same issue arose in Washington DC's Union Station where a TV news crew ended up interviewing a top dog from Amtrak to determine what is the actual policy on photography in train stations. The Amtrak official said that photography is allowed. Meanwhile, a security guard tried to shut the cameraman down.

That incident lead to US Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to demand clearer policies about photography from the companies that operated within Union Station.

Kerzic's ordeal began Dec. 21 when he took the train from New Jersey into New York City and debarked at Penn Station. He snapped a photo of the train speeding away, then walked down the platform where he snapped several other photos. He continued taking photos as the platform emptied into Manhattan.

Then he casually walked towards the staircase to make his own way into the city. He stopped before the stairwell to tie his shoe.

When he stood back up, the cops were hovering over him. Two cops and a dog. A black lab with a nose for explosives.

"They asked what I was doing, I said I was taking photos," he said.

"They said put your bag on the ground and let our dog sniff it."

He complied and the dog confirmed he was carrying no explosives in his photo bag. Then they asked for his ID. Then to see the photos.

And then they ordered him to delete the photos.

"I said 'absolutely not'," said the 50-year-old navy veteran who describes himself as a "conservative republican".

They told him it was illegal to photograph the trains.

"I asked where is the sign that says that," he said.

That was when Amtrak police officer James Rusbarsky, badge Number 466, pulled out his handcuffs.

Kerzic said he immediately placed his hands behind his back, but Rusbarsky insisted on placing the handcuffs on him backwards.

"I asked him please put the cuffs on correctly, you're hurting me, and he refused, tightening them instead," he said.

Then they took him to the holding cell where they handcuffed him to a wall, and even then, they still slammed the door locked, in case he somehow broke free.

Kerzic said they never accused him of trespassing until after they had him handcuffed and placed in the cell. He believes they only came up with this charge after they realized there was no law in the books that stated that photography was illegal inside a train station.

"At no time did they tell me to leave the platform," he said. "All they wanted me to do was delete my photos."

Now he has sent out letters complaining of the incident to everybody from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to New York Senator Hillary Clinton to everybody in between and above, including Amtrak officials, New Jersey Transit officials and even the President Bush himself, in case he feels the urge to do some work before he leaves office next month.

He has also contacted a New York City lawyer who specializes in First Amendment cases and the National Press Photographers Association has also been in contact with him.

And he has been documenting his case on his website, including photos of his injured wrist and the various train platforms as well as the letters he has sent out.

Now he plans to return to Penn Station and photograph the cops who arrested him as well photos for Amtrak contest.

"If I win that contest, I would travel all over the country taking photos," he said.

And if he wins the lawsuit, he may end up traveling all over the world.
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:44 PM   #2
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Looks like that dude will be getting the $1000 in travel vouchers regardless of whether his shot is selected for the calendar or not! At least that's what I'd be expecting if it were me...
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:33 PM   #3
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Believe this to be the website mentioned..

http://www.duanek.name/Amtrak/index.htm

Hope he is successful in suing the pants of the a55wipes who assaulted him.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:39 PM   #4
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double post deleted.
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:48 AM   #5
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Thanks for the link, Brian. I got mine from referencing Fark, but hadn't come across the guy's actual page yet.
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Old 01-06-2009, 03:47 AM   #6
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*post removed, nothing to see here*

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:00 AM   #7
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This should be a lesson to everyone to not shoot the most boring railroad in America; Amtrak.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
This should be a lesson to everyone to not shoot the most boring railroad in America; Amtrak.
I'm pretty sure, and hope you are, kidding... honestly to make fun of a situation that has a victim?? This is a really sad incident, for the railroad, the police involved, and the victim. Hopefully appropriate action will be taken and some much needed education is handed out. I love shooting Amtrak and stand out there in 45 below windchill to shoot it when I can.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Muller
I'm pretty sure, and hope you are, kidding... honestly to make fun of a situation that has a victim?? This is a really sad incident, for the railroad, the police involved, and the victim. Hopefully appropriate action will be taken and some much needed education is handed out. I love shooting Amtrak and stand out there in 45 below windchill to shoot it when I can.
I'm not making fun of the guy who was wrongfully arrested. If he gets a decent lawyer he should come out of it just fine. I do think Amtrak is incredibly boring though.

What's running today?
Some silver passenger trains.
Oh really? How unusual.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
I'm not making fun of the guy who was wrongfully arrested. If he gets a decent lawyer he should come out of it just fine. I do think Amtrak is incredibly boring though.

What's running today?
Some silver passenger trains.
Oh really? How unusual.

And I thought VIA and GO Trains were boring...
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:06 AM   #11
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All modern day passenger trains are boring. Passenger trains haven't been interesting since the 60s and even then I would still prefer the freight trains.
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
All modern day passenger trains are boring. Passenger trains haven't been interesting since the 60s and even then I would still prefer the freight trains.
That's your opinion and obviously nobody likes to hear it expressed so shut it, Mike.

Quite interesting story, in fact, I spoke to an Amtrak Police Officer about this the other day. He said "It's fine, we don't mind, just as long as you don't get in the way. There's no law against it. It's public property. The NY cops are uptight and need to relax."
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
This should be a lesson to everyone to not shoot the most boring railroad in America; Amtrak.
Actually, that should be a call toeveryone with a camera to shoot Amtrak as much as they can from public places.


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Old 01-07-2009, 03:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
All modern day passenger trains are boring. Passenger trains haven't been interesting since the 60s and even then I would still prefer the freight trains.
So.... A GG-1 that was running up to the early 80's at 110mph was boring?

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Old 01-07-2009, 03:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
All modern day passenger trains are boring. Passenger trains haven't been interesting since the 60s and even then I would still prefer the freight trains.
I'm not a big fan of the silver horizontal Peez candy dispenser locos Amtrash has, but give me a few F40PH's over Donner or Stevens Pass and I'll definitely smile.
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Old 01-07-2009, 03:30 PM   #16
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I enjoy riding Amtrak, but not much else. I'll photograph passenger trains every now and then (especially if they are trains with electrics), but they certainly do get boring after a while.
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Old 01-07-2009, 08:19 PM   #17
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Passenger trains are pretty boring... though CP's RCP train is nice when it's around here (Toronto).

My interest in GO Trains was higher when I was in Jr High. I used to head down to the local GO Stn after class to watch the rush hour parade... back then (1987/8 GO had a more interesting fleet incl. GP40TC, GP40M-2, GP40-2W, F40PH, APCU/APU's (F unit shells w/HEP generators) and they had single and bi-level cars too. VIA would send a train or two through during the rush as well, and the LRC engines dominated, but the odd FPA4 showed up.

Now GO is all F59PH/MP40 and all bi-level... boring.

Via is all F40PH/P42 and LRC coaches... boring. Except the trains like #57 and The Canadian that get the Budd stainless equipment... they're still nice to see though the power sucks.

ONR's Northlander uses fmr GO single level coaches with F7B HEP cars pulled by a GP38-2 (used to be R/B F units). It's still kinda nice.

Though my Amtrak exposure is limited, the Three Rivers was nice. I recall watching it pass by the Station Inn... three P42's, baggage cars and boxcars, a few coaches and the roadrailers. It was more freight than passenger... definately not boring.

IMHO, passenger trains are generally more fun to ride than photograph.
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Old 01-07-2009, 08:54 PM   #18
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So anyway...
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:47 PM   #19
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Quote:
Via is all F40PH/P42 and LRC coaches... boring. Except the trains like #57 and The Canadian that get the Budd stainless equipment... they're still nice to see though the power sucks.
How about RDC's, those boring too? 6250 is the last running RDC-4, (and probably the hardest working of all that are left).

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Old 01-07-2009, 11:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
So anyway...
Oh, just pontificating on the topic the thread has been steered to. I'd think it'd be a pretty much universal condemnation of the Amtrak Police on this one... all of us being railfan photgraphers and all.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:05 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMEMD
How about RDC's, those boring too? 6250 is the last running RDC-4, (and probably the hardest working of all that are left).
No, they aren't. But where I am, we just don't see'em. Out of sight, ya know?
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:43 PM   #22
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Ok kids! Lets break this up some, who here knows the first locomotive with the 26L airbrake system? Hint: It's a passenger loco....

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Old 01-08-2009, 02:56 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
Oh, just pontificating on the topic the thread has been steered to. I'd think it'd be a pretty much universal condemnation of the Amtrak Police on this one... all of us being railfan photgraphers and all.
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Old 01-08-2009, 03:15 AM   #24
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I donít agree with this particular photographer getting arrested but he should had more common sense and realized that there is a heavy police presence at Penn Station or in the Subway in New York City. Youíre telling me you canít shoot a photo of the same Amtrak train in New Jersey where he resides.
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Old 01-08-2009, 03:57 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDavey
I donít agree with this particular photographer getting arrested but he should had more common sense and realized that there is a heavy police presence at Penn Station or in the Subway in New York City. Youíre telling me you canít shoot a photo of the same Amtrak train in New Jersey where he resides.
I agree with you for the most part, but would it have hurt him to find a ticket agent or other Amtrak personnel and ask for permission to shoot from the platform? Is the platform actually 'public property' anyway? If he wasn't a paying passenger, what was his reason for being on a platform without permission? Is it any different than trapzing into a museum without paying admission, and shoot pics of the dinosaurs? Plus the article is only one side of the story. Was he actually in 'safe' areas and following the rules of the contest, etc.?

When I was in Ft. Worth in '07, I called ahead and asked if I could shoot from the Amtrak/TRE platform. I was given permission, and I still checked in at C.S. when I got there. She got on the radio and told security that she gave a guy permission to take pictures on the platform. No one questioned me, except for the Heartland Flyer engineer stopping to chat for a few minutes while his train was serviced for the return trip.

I know that Amtrak engourages photography, a camera is on their list of things to bring on board with you when you ride (HERE at the bottom). I also saw a list of tips somewhere, for shooting from inside of the train on their web site last summer, but I am unable to find it now. I don't remember if I was logged into my passenger account and got there that way or not.

I know someone will bring up the Photographer's Rights, but maybe some of us should try being a little more curteous along with that. I've said it before here, but you'd be surprised what a little extra curtesy might get you in the future
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