by John Boch
Champaign, IL (Guns Save Life) – The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence had their first meeting in Champaign as they try to organize a grassroot group of gullible, but well-meaning citizens to advocate against their own civil rights.
Guns Save Life had publicized the event, at our meeting, via email and on the website. We encouraged our members to help make sure ICHV had a good turn out.
When I and my significant other arrived, the library’s security guard greeted us and told us that we couldn’t go in. On the door was a sign saying the room was at maximum capacity and nobody else was being allowed to enter.
Looking through the glass wall, I counted about 20 people in the room, participating in one form or another. The room didn’t look filled to capacity, but whatever.
I won’t say how many of our members were in the room, aside from the one gentleman named Chuck who was wearing a GSL t-shirt and a fanny pack, but I will say there were four of us that walked out of the library, turned away from the room from 2:20 – 2:30pm.
On the way home, Wendy, Guns Save Life’s first lady of sorts and marketing genius, said to me, “They must have had some pretty low expectations if they held their first meeting in a room that would only hold twenty people.”
What were they doing in the room?
The woman on the right seemed to be leading the discussion about the time we left, with people wandering around the room, taking turns talking.
“You’re not allowed to take pictures.”
The trouble started when the library’s security guard told me she was going to have to ask me to leave if I persisted in taking pictures.
“There’s no reasonable expectation of privacy here in this public location,” I told her.
She repeated her earlier demand that I stop taking pictures when the library’s manager, Kristina Hoerner walked up.
I identified myself as a member of the media (GunNews Magazine) and was acting in that capacity taking photographs.
Between the guard and the manager, they tried to assert that the library requires the media to “ask permission” before photographing in the library.
“Sorry, I’m going to decline to ask permission before taking pictures,” I told them.
Then I was obstructing traffic in the aisle. “I’m a pretty skinny guy and these aisles are pretty wide. Nothing is being obstructed.”
Then I was being disruptive. “I’m being disruptive taking pictures from outside the room through the glass wall? I don’t think so. Are you asking me to leave because I’m willing to litigate this in federal court.”
I’m a big fan of Photography is not a Crime and was fairly certain I was on solid ground taking photos unobtrusively in a public location, especially as a member of the media.
In the end, the pleasant Kristina said she wasn’t going to ask me to leave, but to please not be obstructing the aisles or disruptive.
Fair enough. After taking a few additional photos later, we left.
We’ll have more on the meeting later.