Pioneer Press photog told to stop shooting in "private" St. Paul skyway

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Is this space public or private? It seems to depend who you ask.
:::: UPDATE :::: St. Paul Police Release Chris Lollie Arrest Surveillance Footage

Footage of Chris Lollie's controversial arrest in the St. Paul skyway raised questions about the public/private status of that area.

Though both the First National Bank Building's Facebook page and St. Paul city ordinance suggest the seating area where Lollie was arrested is open to the public, the experience of Pioneer Press photographer Ben Garvin supports a different conclusion.

See also:
City Pages blogger robbed in Minneapolis skyway

Here's what Garvin tweeted yesterday afternoon: We contacted him and asked him for a bit more detail about what happened.

"I was snapping photos and was immediately asked to stop by a security guard nearby," Garvin wrote to us in an email. "He said the bank was a private building and thus I couldn't shoot in the skyway space. I said I've taken hundreds of skyway photos over the years, even walked the skyway with St. Paul police for stories. He referred me to head of building operations, she took my cell phone number and said they'd call back indicating their policy on the skyway."

"Everyone was perfectly civil, by the way," Garvin added.

Garvin's experience corroborates something one of our photographers, Rebecca McDonald, said in yesterday's Comment of the Day post.

We called the First National Bank Building's main phone number in hopes someone there could shed light on whether the stretch of skyway in question is public or private. The receptionist said she pass along our inquiry to one of her bosses and they'd get back to us, but we haven't heard anything as this is published.

Of course, what security guards say is one thing, but what law enforcement says is another. So we called St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing in hopes she could inform us about how her offices handles skyway incidents like the one involving Lollie. We're still waiting to hear back on that front too.

-- Update -- Grewing told the Pioneer Press that the stretch of skyway in question is indeed a public area, so it appears First National Bank Building security guards and the St. Paul city attorney are operating with different interpretations of the law.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.






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113 comments
Emily Summers Leabch
Emily Summers Leabch

If the police patrol it it is public, that is why private buildings have private security. Is that not correct?

solutionspm
solutionspm

I'm sitting on a public bench, disturbing no one.

The area I'm sitting in is under no duress.
A cop tells me to leave.
I refuse the cops order.
A crime is only committed when I refuse the cops order?

Therefore, there was no crime until the cop made it a crime for me to sit there?

Hanni Kenny
Hanni Kenny

Interview for what? Make sense or come up with better insults.

Paul Bueltel
Paul Bueltel

I dont see Hanni's article either. Is that why shes mad?

Kate Larkin
Kate Larkin

If the "private property" people do not want people to sit in their publicly inviting layout of chairs maybe they should put bankers ropes out around them or just take them out all together so that security guards wouldn't need to be paid so much to look at empty chairs.

Mary Aho
Mary Aho

In St Paul they are public but in Mpls they are private.

Juliana Christa Berg
Juliana Christa Berg

It's public. However since he was taking photos, that's a different issue. Usually you need a permit to take photos in certain areas. I don't know what the ordinances are for photography and downtown. But like I said, it's a different issue since he was photographing. Some businesses are very strict on photography in or near their property, especially when the photographer starts snapping without permission.

green23
green23 topcommenter

I seem to remember when conservatives were all about "liberty".

Now they demand cowering deference to authority, even when a citizen is doing nothing wrong.

ThorBjornson
ThorBjornson

as pointed out in buried comments but worth making easier to find


the st. paul skyways are publicly owned and operated and are public space


the minneapolis skyways are private


Xiong Thao
Xiong Thao

Just an excuse to cover up racism.

Sarah Lawl
Sarah Lawl

Francisco....when you're an American citizen. ..you have rights....those rights are protected. We the People do NOT have to "just listen to the police because the police said so".... especially when NOT one law was broken. Get your papers or greencard and you too are allowed the same rights.

Francisco Huerta
Francisco Huerta

Not too many people have a shit about this in 2009, all of a sudden it's a big deal?? I'm not saying that the way they treated him was right, but MAYBE when the police tell you to do things, you should listen and let a lawyer decide who was in the wrong.

John Bunch
John Bunch

Aggressive panhandlers prefer the skyways for various reasons. A woman told me that a friend of hers had a knife pulled on her in one. There also are "full time" panhandlers who only work the skyways, from what I have been told.

John Bunch
John Bunch

In Minneaplois the skyways all look different, because they were privately built. If the city had built them, they would have been uniform in style and color, probably.

Rachel King
Rachel King

Skyways are NOT private, they're made for getting from one building to the next building! I've NEVER seen a private skyway, and we hung out in them as kids all the time! I ALWAYS seen ladies walking back to their office with a Marshall Fields bag in their hand because that's how they spent their lunch breaks, or kids going to catch a bus from 5th Street and have to get down to Robert Street when it's -10° outside!!! They've ALWAYS been for the publics use and convenience!!

Stephen Biondo
Stephen Biondo

St Paul is a different city. They are public spaces. Paid for by tax payers.

Holly Larsen
Holly Larsen

It all makes me so disgusted. You know they didn't want him to sit there because he's black. It wouldn't have been an issue if he was white. Now they're trying to say it's private...such BS. Racism is everywhere.

Amanda Rae
Amanda Rae

They have a sign that says "take five and relax" or something to that effect. It's not a private area.

Teri West
Teri West

Why the debate? According to the law, they are public. Despite who paid for them, despite idiotic opinions from people comparing them to a front yard, according to the LAW skyway easements are for public use.

Hanni Kenny
Hanni Kenny

You'd be foolish to look for my articles; I don't write. Thanks for commenting!

Teri West
Teri West

Oops, it does. Don't see your article anywhere...

james_a_dawson
james_a_dawson

Ever since I can recall my dealing with police it was quite expected that if you were questioned by police you answered respectfully and when they asked for identification you provided it. You didn't make a big deal out of things and nor did they. Now... if you want to play skyway lawyer and try to be a big mouth in-their-face I'm-an-expert-on-my-constitutional-rights, then don't be surprised that you are going to ramp up what could be a very minor interlude.

james_a_dawson
james_a_dawson

Panhandlers used to be considered lawbreakers but are now a "protected class" of people. They can be extreme;y annoying and aggressive. If they pull a knife then that's 1st degree armed robbery and they will give them a nice place to stay with meals included for 5 - 10 years. Or a 9mm bullet in the forehead. All depends on their luck.

james_a_dawson
james_a_dawson

Built, paid for and owned by adjacent property owners for the convenience of the general public but they, that is the adjacent property owners, own these bridges and the hallways going through their properties. Just because you ran around in them as a child does not make them yours.

TruDat
TruDat

"Take five" doesn't mean loiter, act suspicious, fail to co-operate with a simple request from police. It's private property, they should be able to do what they want.

DavidFoureyes
DavidFoureyes topcommenter

@TruDat Yeah! Show zem your papers, mannarmer!

james_a_dawson
james_a_dawson

@TruDat - my guess on this is he'll get a good attorney and sue the crap out of the city. probably wind up with at least a 1/4 million dollars richer. The City of St. Paul sure has been paying out tax dollars to settle lawsuits quite a bit lately.

james_a_dawson
james_a_dawson

@_Joe_ @james_a_dawson - we live in changing times. St. Paul is no longer the sleepy little river town of days past. On the increasingly rare occasions that I go downtown I am horrified at what goes on on the corners, sidewalks and in the skyways. Roving packs of feral youth, using language that would make a seasoned sailor blush, aggressively confronting people who are just trying to get by to continue on their way. 

ThorBjornson
ThorBjornson

@james_a_dawson @_Joe_


I actually live downtown St. Paul


I wish there were roving bands of youth


in reality there aren't roving bands of anybody... it's pretty much a ghost town


most of the other people who live here are 45+ empty nesters

ThorBjornson
ThorBjornson

@james_a_dawson @_Joe_


I actually live downtown St. Paul


I wish there were roving bands of youth


in reality there aren't roving bands of anybody... it's pretty much a ghost town

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@james_a_dawson I HATES THOSE KIDS WITH THEIR HIP HOP AND TWERK DANCE.   YOU KNOW THEY HAVE THEIR SEX CHATS RIGHT ON THE SIDEWALK WHEN I JUST WANT TO HAVE A NICE OLD FASHIONED ROOT BEER.   WHEN I GOES TO THE BIG CITY I CARRIES MY CROSS IN FRONT OF ME TO SCARE OF THE SEX VAMPIRE TEENS.  

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@james_a_dawson I HATES TEENS TOO.  I ALSO AM OFTEN CALLED A LUNATIC BUT I KNOWS THOSE FERAL SEX VAMPIRE TEENS ROAM THE STREETS THREATENED THE OLDER FOLKS.   I TOO HOPE FOR THE DAY WHEN THE COPS BEAT UP THE TEENS, CREEPS, AND  VAMPIRES AND KEEP THE STREETS SAFE FOR THE OLD TIMERS.   HAPPY DAYS IT WILL BE AGAIN AS I DO THE CHARLESTON WITH MY HOT MAMA.  

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@james_a_dawson how silly do you look now! I cant even comprehend what you are attempting here but you are wrong i am right. 


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