Now, I rarely reserve sympathy for Drew Powell, head NIMBY of NeighborsPAC, but a recent run-in with security in Rockville Town Square (and the photo protest in Silver Spring) make me reconsider. The following is from Raw Fisher (blog of Marc Fisher, Post columnist) via the Montgomery Sentinel:
Rockville mayoral candidate Drew Powell told the Montgomery Sentinel that a security guard stopped him from taking a picture of his son in front of the Rockville Library last week . . . an executive at Federal Realty, the developer of the Town Center, said that "there are some situations in which people taking pictures in Town Square might be asked to stop," for example, if someone sought to take photos for commercial use.Commercial use? Uh . . . guilty, almost. What would've happened if Rutgers University paid me to use a photo I'd taken of the Town Square for a newsletter they publish (instead of me giving it to them for free?) Could Federal Realty attempt to sue me?
Downtown Silver Spring and Rockville Town Square are both the result of public-private partnerships. However, Susan Hoffmann - Rockville mayoral candidate by day, Silver Spring "mayor" by night - told the Sentinel "she couldn't think of why photography would be forbidden in Town Square." The City of Rockville considers it a fully public space, whether or not it's managed or even owned outright by Federal Realty.
Because developments like this are becoming increasingly common - especially in Montgomery County's numerous redeveloping neighborhoods and town centers - a standard, across-the-board policy on personal rights must be created. I don't agree with Drew Powell's opinions (for all we know, he probably thinks the Town Square is too dense, too tall and destroying somebody's property values) but he, like all of us, deserves the right to free speech.