Does First Amendment protect man taking pictures of kids?

Photo: Jed Felix

In Fargo, the First Amendment is running up against the creepiness of a man taking photos of women and children at city parks.

The controversy started this week on First Avenue South, when a man watched swimmers by a city pool’s diving boards, acted like he was smoking and then snapped a photo using a camera with a zoom lens, Fargo Forum reports.

“He was very calm during the entire thing like he knew that he was in the right,” resident Jed Felix said about confronting the man. “He said that until it’s illegal, he’s going to keep doing it.”

Where does the right of someone to snap a picture collide with the right of someone at a public pool to be left alone?

The Fargo Park District has banned the man, who apparently describes himself as an “artist”, from city pools and public property, while acknowledging it’s a gray area.

“There’s really no rules for this,” Roger Gress, executive director of the Fargo Park District, tells the newspaper. “It’s a feel for the situation.”

“It’s complicated because we don’t want to violate people’s rights,” said police Lt. Joel Vettel, who serves on the Fargo Park Board. “We also recognize the greater good of the public, and we want to be respectful of that.”

Gress said that while the park district takes a person’s rights into consideration in such cases, he’s inclined to err on the side of the safety of children. “These kids come first—end of story,” he said.

Felix posted pictures of the man on his Facebook page.