A Border Patrol agent allegedly held a member of an Iowa Boy Scout troop at gunpoint while another threatened another boy with arrest and a 10-year prison term for taking a picture of him, KCCI-TV reported.
The incident reportedly took place while members of Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111 and volunteers traveling with them were attempting to drive through the border between Canada into Alaska. Troop leader Jim Fox told KCCI that the group was detained and searched after the scout took the picture. The agent allegedly told Fox that the scout had committed a federal offense.
"The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and 10 years in prison," Fox was quoted as saying.
Fox and his troop complied with the agent's order, but as another scout was unloading luggage from one of the group's vans, "He hears a snap of a holster, turns around, and here's this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man's head."
The troop was released after being detained for four hours, and made it back to Iowa this past Sunday.
Reason.com reported that federal regulations (PDF) allow for non-commercial photographs of federal facilities "only with written permission of an authorized official of the occupying agency concerned." But according to the American Civil Liberties Union, federal buildings and police in plain view fall under the definition of "public spaces," and can therefore be photographed when someone is "lawfully present."
"There is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply," the ACLU wrote in a guide about public photography rights updated earlier this month.
[Image: "Young Boy In A Field Looking Through Binoculars," via Shutterstock]