The NYPD seized the drone of a photojournalist documenting the mass burials on Hart Island amid the coronavirus crisis.

Aerial photographer George Steinmetz, who has an FAA license to fly a drone, had launched the $1,500 device from a City Island parking lot Wednesday morning to film the somber work on Hart Island when he was suddenly stopped.

Just minutes after he began, Steinmetz was confronted by a group of plainclothes NYPD officers who stepped out of an unmarked van. The cops confiscated the drone and issued him a misdemeanor summons for  “avigation,” an antiquated law prohibiting aircraft —  including drones — from taking off or landing anywhere in New York City that isn’t an airport, the report said.

A frustrated Steinmetz posted to his Instagram:

“For over 150 years this island with no public access has been used to bury over a million souls whose bodies were not claimed for private burial. With the morgues of NYC strained, the pace of burials on Hart Island has increased dramatically. I was cited by NYPD while taking this photo, and my drone was confiscated as evidence, for a court date tentatively scheduled for mid-August. #keepthememorycard”

“These are humans, and they’re basically being treated like they’re toxic waste, like they’re radioactive,” Steinmetz told Gothamist. “I think it’s important.”

Steinmetz is the second journalist since the pandemic began to have his drone seized by cops while trying to photograph Hart Island, according to Mickey Osterreicher, the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association. An Associated Press photographer suffered the same fate while looking to document the mass burials last week.

Meanwhile this video from Reuters and AP on April 9 shows labourers burying coffins on Hart Island in New York:

Photo:  George Steinmetz

Sources: The Washington Post; gothamist; New York Post

UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von UAS Vision automatisch importiert. Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache.