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

Is this space public or private? It seems to depend who you ask.
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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