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Fully Focused: Mizzou protesters unlawfully, forcibly kept photographers out of public space

Columnist Lauren Bacho discusses Tim Tai and the video of University of Missouri students blocking him from the protests in a public area.

To start off, I would like to clear up anyone’s confusion — or ignorance — about photographing in public areas. If you are out in a public place anyone can photograph you without your permission, and you cannot stop someone from taking your photograph in a public place. It is our right as photographers to do our job and take pictures of what is happening. You have no privacy in public spaces. That is a myth people have created.

On Monday at the University of Missouri, Tim Tai, a freelance photographer, was out covering a protest put on by Concerned Student 1950 on campus, according to The New York Times. Tai was simply out doing work for ESPN and doing his job as a photojournalist, documenting the protest. However, students and faculty formed a wall of people around the tent city and refused to let Tai through to take photos. There is a video of the entire situation with the The New York Times' article that shows how out of control those students were.

One of the students in the video claims that Tai is infringing on privacy and that he has no right to be there taking photos. Luckily, Tai knows his rights and tried to reason with people and explain that the First Amendment protects both their right to protest and his right to be there and photograph.

It’s frustrating that people are so uneducated and think that they can keep journalists from doing their jobs and reporting the news. If you want privacy, go on private property. Don’t protest in the middle of a college campus and expect people to “respect your privacy.” It’s obvious that they were out there to get media attention and for people to see them, so it’s ridiculous that they basically attacked Tai when he came to take photos.

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Personally, if I were Tai and had a large group of people pushing me around and surrounding me I would have told them I was going to have them charged with assault. Those students were in the wrong completely, and Tai had every right to call the police but chose not to. Every one of them that was pushing him away could have been arrested, but Tai chose to attempt to do his job without the involvement of the police.

On Tuesday, Melissa Click, a communication professor at Mizzou, came out with a statement of apology for how she reacted to the journalists and resigned from her position within the school of journalism, according to The Chicago Tribune. I’m glad she resigned from her position within the journalism school at Mizzou because she should not be teaching students to attack journalists for doing their jobs. Personally, I think the university should fire her because of how she acted at the protest.

Journalists are not out to exploit people. They’re simply doing their jobs. If you don’t want to be photographed and reported on then don’t do things to get yourself put in the news. If you’re out protesting you clearly have a message you’re trying to get heard. You can’t claim to want privacy in the middle of a protest. All those people accomplished was making themselves look uneducated. Know the law before you try to keep people from doing their jobs, otherwise you might end up with a video of yourself on The New York Times making you look like a complete idiot for the entire world to see. Do some research. The Internet is a great tool. Use it for something other than your annoying social media accounts.

Lauren Bacho is a sophomore studying photojournalism and a photo editor for The Post. Do you think Missouri students were wrong to keep Tim Tai from photographing? Tweet her @Visual_Bacho or email her at

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