Slog - The Stranger's Blog

Line Out

The Music Blog

« Arts in America: Weekend Editi... | President Bush Reads The Stran... »

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Downtown Bomb Threat

Posted by on August 12 at 16:09 PM

I was bopping around downtown around 2 pm when I ran into a police blockade set up at First Avenue and Columbia Street. I asked an officer directing traffic what the deal was, and he said they were dealing with a “situation.”

What sort of situation?
“A moderate situation that might develop into serious. Move along, please.”

There were police vehicles and a police presence for roughly four square blocks, encompassing First and Second Avenue, and Marion St. and Columbia St. A black SWAT vehicle also appeared to be parked on the curb. Police tape was everywhere.

The next officer I approached refused to chat with me, but a camera man setting next to him told me that a “suspicious package” had been found in the area. He didn’t know where the package had been found, of if someone had tipped off the police. He hypothesized that a bomb threat had been called in.

I followed the detour and began snapping photos. Another officer stopped me and asked me what I was doing. In turn, I asked him if he could give me any more details on the situation.

“Are you with the press?” he asked.
“I work for The Stranger,” I replied.
“Do you have any credentials?” he asked skeptically.
“Nope. I have a passport and some chap stick, though.”
“I need you to erase that picture and move along.”
“Can you tell me if this suspicious package was found, or if someone called in a bomb threat?”
“Erase the photo and move along.”
He seemed angry (and his lips appeared quite thin and chapped), so I didn’t argue with him (or offer him chap stick).
I obediently “erased” my photo, walked up to First and Marion, and snapped a few more, where a friendlier officer’s moist, full lips confirmed that it was a bomb threat, and told me to scoot. So I did.

Here are the photos:



CommentsRSS icon

Wow! Those are some amazing, amazing pics! Thank you so much for going through all that to bring them to the world.

Oh Jeebuz H. Fucking Christ on a cracker El, cut the kid some slack. If it turns out to be anything other than somebody left their Macy's bag on the sidewalk and drove away without it (which is probably what happened), and you heard about it somewhere else tomorrow, you'd be bitching up a storm as to how somebody missed the "scoop".

Go outside, and fucking play in the sunshine already, and adjust that fucking whiney-ass attitude.

I was on the 18 right next to the fed building when the swat cars came roaring up, sirens blaring. I thought "swat cars + federal building = bomb threat", realized that if the bomb went off right then I was pretty much doomed, and mumbled a little prayer as the bus slowly inched its way past the building and to the sweet, sweet safety of Queen Anne.

For future reference, Cienna:
The Photographer's Right

ERASE the picture? WTF? Guess he'd been reading "Fascism for Dummies".

"I need you to erase that picture and move along."

Move along, sure, erase the picture I think not, press or no press. Various info at

What's up with the "erase the pictures" bullshit? Doesn't he know he never can demand that someone not take a photograph of a public scene, or erase one that has been taken? Doesn't he know that it doesn't matter whether someone is from the press or not? Don't they cover this basic stuff on "this is not a police state" day in police officer school?

I hope you asked for his badge number and called in a complaint.

"I need you to gouge out your eyes and move along. This is a delicate matter. Thanks for understanding."

Well of course he can ask you to erase the picture. That doesn't mean you have to do it though. He can ask you to stand on one leg and juggle hamsters too, but in either case he has the same authority to compel you to do so.

"I need you to erase that picture and move along."

Excuse me? WTF!!! Did a real actual police officer say that? What a dumb ass. I have come to expect that kind of lame statement from rent-a-cops who are completely ignorant of the law and the constitution, but I would think that an actual police officer in a large metropolitan area would know better.

FWIW, anyone can basically take a photo of anything as long as you are standing in a public place (like a sidewalk, for example). Even the "Patriot Act" has not managed to trample this basic right. Yet.

Next time a cop tells you to erase a photo, politely tell him to fuck off.

Just typical jackass cop behavior....

The Police do whatever they want and let the lawyers sort it out. This has gone from S.O.P., to most cities providing large slush funds for the inevitable (righteous) law suits. Most police don't even bother to learn the laws anymore, it's now their culture to do whatever they want and basically act like totalitarians.
This is your reality.

Cienna's my favorite. Good report and fine photos, considering. She put "erase" in quotes, which I took to mean she only pretended to erase the picture.

Carry credentials, Cienna! You never know.

Thanks for all the advice. Frankly, I didn't even consider arguing with the angry officer when it seemed easy enough to walk up a block and snap as many photos as I pleased. One sexy shot of police tape is just as exciting as the next.
And apparently, I suck at erasing shit, because the photo remained. Hurrah for happy endings!

I think it was donuts from Krispy Kreme.

Those draw cops like flies.

Good thing you weren't black, Cienna, or else the cops, instead of asking you to erase the pic, would've broke the camera over your head, punched you in the mouth, maced you, and then arrested you for assault with a deadly weapon.

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).