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JANUARY 26, 2008    

Freedom & terrorCleveland Federal Courts building

Yesterday I walked across the Detroit-Superior Bridge in the late afternoon sunshine and at the eastern end crossed the street to see the relatively new Federal Court House Tower. It was impressive with the bright sun on its light-colored stone. As I looked up to frame this shot to include the Jim Dine sculpture, I noticed the quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

I was feeling rather proud of this sentiment inscribed on the building—how very American—when two workers leaving the building said "Hey, you know you can't take pictures of this building!"

Well, no, that never even occurred to me. I was just taking a snapshot of a local landmark.

I quickly put my camera away and continued walking across the plaza and down the steps to the Flats below. The two workers were a few yards ahead of me. From their bulky clothes, dark blue cargo pants and baseball caps I guessed they were FBI or other security. One had pulled out her phone and was talking on it, possibly alerting security inside to a potential terrorist threat in a red stocking cap outside.

I guess we're all terrorists now.

I understand the world situation enough to appreciate the need to be on the lookout for potential threats. But to say that no one can take pictures of a federal building seems like overkill. I've spent time in London—a city that's experience many more terrorist bombings than Cleveland—and don't remember any restriction on picture-taking.

The machine-gun toting London bobby outside the Houses of Parliament didn't give me a hard time about my camera a couple of years ago, he was just annoyed at this stupid American who thought he was at Westminster Abbey.

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