Esteemed Indian director Rakesh Sharma is suing the city of New York after police stopped him filming and detained him on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack.
The documentary-maker was ordered to switch off his camera and held for four hours in May last year (2005), but has hit back by enlisting the New York Civil Liberties Union to challenge the police restrictions on taking pictures in public. The restrictions were put in place after the September 11th (01) atrocities.
Lawyers for the FINAL SOLUTION director allege police actions violated his constitutional rights to free speech, as well as his rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Sharma also claims he was targetted because of his dark skin and beard and says he has seen white tourists filming without official interference. Sharma's handheld camera was also reported to be damaged by authorities.
Lawyer CHRISTOPHER DUNN says, "It's one thing if you're under the Brooklyn Bridge taking photographs of moorings, but it's another if you are on a midtown sidewalk filming taxicabs. Hundreds of people do that every day. It can't be the basis of suspecting somebody of terrorism.
"There's no question that people who look like that (Asian) draw greater scrutiny from the police department."
Gabriel Taussig, chief of the city's Administrative Law Division, has released a statement in response: "We have just received the legal papers in this case and are evaluating them thoroughly. Obviously, in this day and age, it's a high priority of New York City to ensure safety on its public streets."