Downtown Silver Spring by Chip Py
Free Our Streets, a loose association of Chip Py and DC Metrobloggers has started to make a difference.
Through our efforts, Montgomery county citizens are now aware that the developers of Downtown Silver Spring feel they have bought control over basic First Amendment rights on Ellsworth Avenue for $1 a year. And MoCo voters are not happy.
The questions they’re asking has led PFA Silver Spring LLC, a development partnership including the Peterson Companies, Foulger Pratt and Argo Investment, to change their stance on photography. But that change is just a start, a first, baby step. As the Baltimore Sun explains:
Last night, the development team, PFA Silver Spring LLC, issued a new policy, allowing photography in the area. And on July 4, it plans to display a “Welcome Photographers” banner on the site.
But Py insists photography is not his sole concern. All types of free expression should be permitted, from political campaigning to handing out fliers and other literature, he said.
“They are telling us it’s OK to take pictures on the street, but we don’t have any other First Amendment rights,” he said. “They don’t want to talk about public-private rights on a street. … We are asking for some First Amendment considerations in our town.”
Free Our Streets is asking for PFA Silver Spring LC to welcome photography, videography, and other filming on Ellsworth Drive, consistent with First Amendment rights as they would apply on any other public street. Not a watered down “photography at our discretion, if we like you” policy for Ellsworth Drive.
The Downtown Silver Spring development includes $187 million in county and state funds and the once completely public property Ellsworth Drive, public investment that should come with public rights.
And so the Downtown Silver Spring Photo Walk is still on. A declaration of photographic freedom on July 4th.