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Police: 3 Men 'Suspiciously' Videotaping At Santa Monica Pier

NBC | August 12 2005

Police Say Men Were Filming Access Roads, Security Structures

Comment: It is now suspicious to film a tourist attraction. Good Lord, think of the political repreucussions of bombing the Santa Monica Pier. They must have been with Al Qaeda.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Three men who were seen videotaping the Santa Monica pier in a suspicious manner have been identified and were seen videotaping in other communities, police said Thursday.

All three men were of Middle Eastern descent, NBC4 reported. The men's nationalities had nothing to do with the investigation, police said.

"Ordinarily, when tourists videotape, they don't videotape security structures for an extended period of time," said Santa Monica Police Chief James T. Butts. "They don't focus on access roads, and usually, the tourists themselves are in the photographs to document they were there, and that's not what these photgraphs showed."

The three men were not arrested, police said.

At least one community leader, however, questioned whether or not racial profiling was involved, NBC4 reported.

"That creates this kind of confusion, this kind of fear that if someone is Middle Eastern and filming, does that fall into the category of being suspicious?" Sabiha Khan, of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said. "So, behavior should be profiled, not people."

The investigation began on July 22, when a member of the public who had taken still photographs of the three contacted the Santa Monica Police Department, according to Santa Monica Police Lt. Frank Fabrega.

Butts said the department will take additional steps to increase police visibility throughout the city, by adding more officers, changing deployment locations and limiting access to parts of the pier.