GREAT FALLS, Virginia — On October 23, a Chinese female photographer Sueann was assaulted by a white male when she took photos at Great Fall Park in Virginia. The man verbally insulted her ethnicity, grabbed her camera and dragged her down to the ground. The man then smashed Sueann’s camera onto the ground. Sueann had multiple abrasions and her camera was broken.
According to Sueann, she was taking pictures of the waterfall on an observation deck when a white female came and said her family was in Sueann’s picture. Susana apologized to that woman and deleted the picture of the woman’s face.
Then, Sueann and her husband moved to another observation deck. However, the woman’s husband followed them and said loudly in front of other park visitors that Sueann was working for Chinese intelligent agencies. When they argued, the man grabbed and threw Sueann’s camera and dragged her down.
The staff of Great Fall Park Service Department called 911. The man told policemen that what he did was justifiable defense because Sueann shot his family’s picture, refused to delete it and attacked his wife first.
Three witness also came forward and told what they saw to the policemen.
According to American law, anyone in a public place can take pictures of anything they want. Public places include parks, sidewalks, malls, etc. Taking a photo of a publicly visible subject does not constitute terrorism, nor does it infringe on a company’s trade secrets. People can be photographed without their consent if they are in public.
To remind photographers: if you are challenged, you do not have to explain why you are taking pictures, nor to you have to disclose your identity (except in some cases when questioned by a law enforcement officer); if someone tries to confiscate your camera, you don’t have to give it to them. If they take it by force or threaten you, they can be liable for things like theft and coercion. Even law enforcement officers need a court order.
This event triggered a hot discussion on a local photography forum. Many people expressed their sympathy and indignation to what happened to Sueann.
“This racist should be punished. We need to protect Chinese from insulting and bullying,” one people commented.
Police have already opened the case. The broken camera was held as evidence. Further investigation is under way.