Photographer tackled by Smithsonian security guards


posted Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 1:14 PM EST


Around a week ago, photographer Kristoffer Tripplaar was at the Air and Space Museum, covering the fast food worker's strike that was going on at the time. Hardly an unusual place for an accredited photographer to end up — but one wouldn't expect to be wrestled to the ground by a trio of security guards. And that's exactly what happened to Tripplaar.

Talking to Photography is not a Crime Tripplaar explained what happened:

During the protest a security officer grabbed and began removing a videographer. While removing him, he pushed the videographer towards me and to protect my cameras I leaned forward to take the blow with my body. In the process, the security officer who was removing the videographer ran into me. Right after that another officer ran up and began to yell that I had hit the officer. I can’t emphasize enough that I did not lay a finger on the officer. At that point, the officer removing the videographer, the officer who accused me of hitting him, and a third officer grabbed me and slammed me to the ground.

As I was on the ground a security officer that identified himself as a supervisor came over, told them to let me go and offered to help me up. I told him I would not get up until he made the three security officers back off because I was afraid they would grab me again. Once they backed off, I got up and went back to photographing the protest.
Once the protest inside the food court wound down, I approached the supervisor who had helped me to ask for the names of the officers who had grabbed me, one of which was standing next to him. When I did that they both began pushing me towards a door saying it was time for me to leave.

Thankfully, since it was an event with a lot of media present, the altercation was able to be captured and widely reported on. It's been covered by the NPPA, DCist, and Tripplaar wrote about it on his blog. He's also sending a formal complaint to the Smithsonian about the institute.

Tripplaar was at Air and Space museum, covering a newsworthy event, as an accredited photographer for Sipa Press. There's no reason that he would have had to have been tackled by three guards — even if he were involved in an altercation, that level of force would not have been appropriate. So hopefully this event will see some sort of official reaction from the Smithsonian, and at the very least an apology.

(via NPPA)