Visitor didn't feel Hoosier hospitality

Walter Miller
Published: .
Updated: .

Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A recent visitor to Indianapolis says police are crossing a fine line when it comes to tourists and suspected terrorists. The criticism comes after a camera confrontation outside a major city landmark.

Last Sunday, Walter Miller wanted lasting images to take back with him to Houston. He got them. To cap off his first F-1 race experience, he and his lens headed downtown. He had just snapped a photo of the Julian Opie Signs exhibit when signs of trouble converged.

"Two police cars came up," Miller said by phone Friday. "One on the side of me and one behind me with their lights flashing. And some officers got out and said 'what were you taking pictures of?' I said, 'Well the art exhibit.' He said, 'I need to see it, for matters of homeland security. You can't be taking pictures around here,'" Miller recalled the officer saying to him hours after the race.

Miller's says he took pictures of buildings - five aluminum configurations drawn in London and New York. It just so happens, a sliver of the Indianapolis City County Building was in the shot.

According to IMPD, pictures of certain government facilities are off limits. Never mind that Stop 10 of the Opie art exhibit sits smack in front of the City-County Building.

"I couldn't believe it when he said what he was doing - riffling through my camera in the name of homeland security," said Miller.

Miller was allowed to take his pictures and leave after questioning. Now he's questioning if his civil rights were violated.

Sgt. Matthew Mount at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department says it's not about violating any rights, or ruining vacations.

"Our job in this post 9/11 world is to try to ensure the safety our citizens. And if we have to be a little bit more vigilant, than we were pre-9/11 that's what we'll do," he said.

The Texan says he supports effective security. He counts on it daily working inside one of the country's most prized assets. Miller works for NASA at the Johnson Space Center outside of Houston.

"Security out here is implemented very well. We do have tourists attractions out at Johnson Space Center. People go out with cameras all the time," explained Miller.

The big difference, Miller says, tourists are set up to be tourists, not suspected terrorists. 

Miller tells Eyewitness News he also took pictures of the United States Courthouse for the 7th District of Indiana - near the site of another Julian Opie exhibit - without any problem. 

The Arts Council of Indianapolis is sponsoring the exhibit and issued this statement: "Because we don't know the circumstances or specifics of this incident, we cannot comment. Obviously we would hope that the art installations could be enjoyed in the public realm."

IMPD officials say law enforcement is concerned about pictures of federal office buildings, military installations, major bridges and other infrastructure that could be considered a terrorists target.

If in doubt, police say, tourists should confine their photographs to marked tourists spots.