Story in the Isthmus

September 16th, 2010
by Josh Zytkiewicz

The story of my experience at the Kastenmeier Courthouse has gone mainstream.  There is an article in this weeks Isthmus, a weekly local paper here in Madison, WI.

Much of the story is taken from my blog and an interview I did with reporter Bill Lueders.  However, Lueders was able to talk with Chief Deputy U.S. Marshall Kirk Papenthien.

Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Kirk Papenthien notes that many people photograph Madison’s federal courthouse, with its distinctive steel-blue façade and whimsical touch of red neon. Not all are asked who they are and what they’re doing. (Isthmus wasn’t, in taking the photo that accompanies this story.)

But Papenthien says some picture-takers trigger inquiries, "to let people know there is a security presence." He admits people can come after hours and other times the building is closed without this occurring.

But if taking photos of the courthouse is allowed, why did the guard tell Zytkiewicz to stop taking pictures and threaten to summon police? Papenthien, who’s read the blog account, says, "I have no knowledge as to whether that is an accurate transcript." And even if it were (it is — Isthmus heard the recording), Papenthien isn’t saying the guard overstepped because "I have no knowledge what he [Zytkiewicz] was taking pictures of."

Interesting quotes I would say.  How many people don’t know there’s a security presence at a federal courthouse?  You can see the guards and metal detector while standing on the sidewalk across the street through the large clear glass front entrance.SONY DSC And there’s at least 8 security cameras.  They’re not little either, those are about twelve inches long.SONY DSC And after hours this won’t happen?  Really?  So Saturday’s the court is in session?  Cause that’s when another photographer was stopped and questioned.  And that was back in 2007.

And if you’re that concerned about security why only question people during business hours?  Do terrorists only work during business hours?  And then to come out and say it in the paper, almost inviting people with malicious intent to come out at night, you won’t be questioned.

And then he questions my accuracy while seemingly defending the guard while protecting his own ass.  Saying he has “no knowledge” of what I was taking pictures of.  With all those security cameras they no exactly where I walked and where I pointed my lens.  Is there no communication going on among security personnel at the courthouse?  You would think that if i was deemed a threat they would have a record of it somewhere. 

So would you like to see the pictures I took Deputy U.S. Marshall Kirk Papenthien?  Can you tell me exactly what type of pictures would allow a guard to tell me “Don’t take one of the building.” and “ I’ll get a hold of Madison PD they’ll come and talk to you.”?  Is there some part of that building, a building which is set right along a public sidewalk, a building that anyone can walk up to and touch, a building set in the heart of Wisconsin’s capital city, a building next to a parking garage that holds over 600 cars, a building that is seen by hundreds, possibly thousands of people each day, is there some part of THAT building that is so important, that a picture of it is a security threat.  Tell me Deputy U.S. Marshall Kirk Papenthien, what part of the building would that be?

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