Upload & Sell: On
Sorry to hear @ such an ordeal.
Despite my multiple encounters with inquiries, I've never experienced anyone getting physical with me like that.
I think your story illustrates the fact that the issue is incredibaly beyond the LEO and infested into the minds of people everywhere to a varying degree. The issue pales in contrast to the "Witch Hunts" or "McCarthy" era's ... but the point here is that people (way more than just LEO) have developed an irrational fear, which is perpetuating the actions of LEO and people in general with such erroneous attitudes about who we are and what we are up to.
There was a day when people looked at my photographic endeavors with curiosity and respect. These days ... suspicion of criminal, terroristic or perversion are more prevalently formed in their minds than one of artistry or historical perspectives.
I'm glad to hear that your LEO did (finally) come to realize your benign activity. For the rest, I'm saddened by it. I must admit, I have essentially abandoned such street photography due to the public's paranoia and the subesequent fallout. I'm always a bit amazed by others who succeed at street photography. A "run in" with a locomotive may ruin my gear, injur or even kill me, but it never attacks my character nor casts my craft into such negative light as criminal, terroristic or perverse ... only people do that.
Sadly, the combination of the internet horror stories and the post 9-11 era fears that have been exacerbated by so many other perpetuating such myths @ the potential hazard to society we impose are a reality that we live among an irrational society. I would love to change that irrational fear into one of curiosity and respect again, but I don't anticipate that ever being restored anytime soon. Of course, the likes of the campaign poster (Kent's link) contribute to fostering the irrational fears of others.
I don't have an answer @ how to change the hearts & minds @ others away from their irrational fear of our endeavors. Such is beyond my control, recognizing that I still must contend with (not condone or accept as proper) it as part of the world. I'd love to be able to "change the world" for myself and for all of us, but until that happens, I'd like to hear @ strategies for contending with it.
My dialogue with the FBI was suggestive that I place a placard in my truck, and or wear some form of identifying clothing @ photography. The agent's experience was that when LEO and (people in general) see something else that is "suggestive" of propriety, it helps keep their 'creative minds' and irrational fears from connecting with each other.
I'm not overly enthused at the prospect of "advertising" my photography with "steal me stickers" ... but, I do understand what the agent was referring to from a psychological basis @ others. Of course, a rational mind already knows that a "bad guy" can put up a sign or wear photographic clothing just as easily as a "good guy" can. However, it isn't the logic and rationality involved @ being able to deduce which one is more likely to be using such tactics.
Logical deduction requires rationality, and irrational fears do not afford such deduction. I guess that's why "bad guy" disguises work, they provide a seemingly logical explanation for a person's whereabouts, activities and endeavors. This in turn mitigates or retards the onset of (rational) fear. Similarly, the strategy to provide a logical explanation to the mindset of others, BEFORE their minds connect between the dots from creative to irrational would be a preemptive one.
The notion of needing to "identify myself" (as if a "bad guy" could never present himself the same way) goes against my sense of objectivity ... but the irrationality of the public does not carry the same sense of objectivity that we do.
Anyway, some of our world has come to a place where irrational fear is part of it. I try to remain objective at the world around me (recognizing its irrationalities) without becoming irrational in reciprocity @ LEO, public, politicians, etc. Some days that's a bit easier said than done.