Obama Photographer Confronted By Secret Service After Taking Photos in Front of White House

Mannie Garcia, who captured the image of Barack Obama that was made into the famous “Hope” poster by artist Shepard Fairey, is the latest photographer to be confronted by law enforcement for taking photos in a public place.

Last week we told you about the street photographer who was questioned by a police officer after capturing images in Times Square. In this case, Garcia was taking photos in front of the White House yesterday when a uniformed Secret Service officer confronted him and demanded he delete one of the images.

“He just charged me,” Garcia told PDN Pulse. “He came right at me and grabbed my camera. He had his hand on his weapon and said give me that photo and I said no.”

The image in question was one Garcia had captured of two women rolling baby strollers in front of the White House. In the shot, shown below, the uniformed Secret Service officer can be seen at the right, glaring at the camera.

Mannie Garcia was told to delete this photo by the Secret Service officer on the right. ©Mannie Garcia

Garcia was amongst a group of news photographers who were at the White House to photograph rallies in conjunction with World AIDS Day and several other events yesterday. He said he was wearing his press badge which the officer could clearly see.

“He said: ‘I want you to delete the photo. You don’t have my permission.’ And I said, we’re not photographing you. And then I asked him if I was under arrest and he said no. What bothered me the most was that he grabbed the camera and I had to pull it away. I’m not a kid. I’m in my 50s. I have grey hair and he clearly saw my credentials.”

Garcia was able to walk away from the officer with his Nikon D3s and the image intact. Later, Jay Mallin, a photographer friend of Garcia’s, explained what happened to a sergeant in charge of the Secret Service officers. The sergeant told Garcia that the officer was out of line.

©Jay Mallin

“When I showed him the photo, which I did in good faith, the sergeant rolled his eyes and looked at the young officer,” Garcia said. “It was a situation where you had new uniformed Secret Service officer who was new to the beat. Obviously he has had training but not the experience about what should be done.”

Though it may have been an isolated incident, Garcia said the atmosphere has been tense of late.

“Yesterday, in particular, felt like a day of heightened security. It had this mood in the air. But people have a right to be there and you don’t intimidate people by charging them and putting your hand on your weapon.”

(From Jay’s Blog.)

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