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Two detained in shooting ... photos

The pair, who photographed a refinery, were questioned and released. The ACLU is investigating.

By Linda K. Harris

Inquirer Staff Writer




PETER TOBIA / Inquirer


Bill Madeira in front of the Sunoco Inc. refinery, which he was arrested for taking pictures of last month.



They were standing at the crest of the Passyunk Avenue bridge, where they could gaze across the Schuylkill, observe the labyrinth of oil-industry sculpture, and feel the tremble of the structure beneath their soles as the tractor-trailers zoomed past.


They were snapping photos, enjoying the sunset.


Then police stopped by and asked what they were doing. Minutes later, a helicopter circled overhead, and four more squad cars showed up.


And soon the pair - William P. Madeira and Jonas Lundquist - were in handcuffs, on their way to Philadelphia's South Detective station at 24th and Wolf.


Their offense? Photographing the Sunoco Inc. refinery at 3144 Passyunk Ave. in South Philadelphia.


Except it's perfectly legal, their lawyer says.


"Every time I think of it, I get livid," said Madeira, 56, of Center City, of the June 9 incident.


Amateur photographers Madeira and Lundquist, 28, a Pennsylvania Ballet dancer at the time, stopped at the bridge around sunset that evening. They had been there for about 40 minutes when the police stopped and asked for their IDs. After they presented them, the police left, but returned with reinforcements.


Neither man was charged with any crime, and neither was allowed to call a lawyer - or anyone else - while detained. They were held for four hours, questioned and released around midnight, they said.


Madeira is a community organizer for the nonprofit Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth. He's also a Democratic committeeman in the Eighth Ward. Lundquist, who also lived in Center City until his recent return to his home, Helsinki, Finland, was a guest dancer for the Pennsylvania Ballet for two years.


Madeira said Lundquist, who took up photography during the last year while recovering from an injury, was shooting photos of the river and the refinery.


"He spent a lot of the season discovering photography, and he loves it," said Denise Venuti, public-relations manager for the Pennsylvania Ballet, who said she had not heard of the incident. "He's aspiring to become a photographer now."


The two photographers had discovered a mutual interest in industrial sites, ruins, warehouses and factories. They had taken shots throughout the Northeast and other areas of the city.


That Sunday evening, the oil refinery was just another day of scouting out their usual subject matter.




One of the police officers told Madeira that it's illegal to take pictures of a refinery.


"A woman cop said, 'Don't you know what's going on in this country?'" Madeira recalled.


The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a letter of protest with the City Solicitor's Office. Philadelphia police said they would not comment on the case because of a possible lawsuit.


"This was an unconstitutional arrest, and there will have to be some recompense for it," said Stefan Presser, an attorney with the ACLU who is representing Madeira and Lundquist. "I will also insist that some directive go out so that there's some further training so that other people don't get subjected to this."


Madeira said he asked three times to call a lawyer.


The third time, Madeira said, the detective told him he didn't need a lawyer.


"Isn't it amazing? There was nothing to charge us with," Madeira said. "If they do this to a couple of white guys, what's going to happen to someone with a Middle Eastern complexion?"


In his letter to Carlton L. Johnson of the city Law Department, Presser wrote:


"On no fewer than three occasions, Mr. Madeira requested the right to speak with a lawyer. Not only was this request not granted, but when later a District detective began to interrogate him, he was given no Miranda warning. ...


"As I am unaware of any federal, state or local provision which makes it illegal to photograph oil refineries, I would ask that you supply me with the authority to which these officers referred."


The incident has left Madeira shaken and with a touch of insomnia. He's also still plenty angry.


"That's how fascism starts," Madeira said this week. "I hope everybody remembers that these kind of civil liberties are the basis of American civilization, and you have to stand up for them."




Contact Linda K. Harris at 215-854-4417 or lharris@phillynews.com.

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Guest Dyptheria

every six minutes, a woman is raped. so nice to see the police have their priorities straight with this one.

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thank bush and his mission to end our civil rights in the name of corporate growth(greed).It was sick how a month after 911 he made it a priority to bust medical marijuana spots in LA and SF. Or how he's so willing to bail out big businesses yet not a penny is invested into their layed off workers.

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