WASHINGTON (CN) — Slapping freshman Congressman Tom Garrett with a federal complaint Tuesday, a photojournalist says the Republican made a xenophobic campaign poster with his photograph of Mexican immigrants crossing a wall into the United States.
Noting his 30 years of experience with Time magazine, Newsweek, Europe’s leading news weekly Der Spiegel and other outlets, photojournalist Todd Bigelow says he registered the border photo in question with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2015.
Bigelow minces few words in stating Rep. Garrett got his hands on the photo.
“Tom Garrett is an anti-immigrant pro-Trump politician who ran for Congress last year by helping himself to – and essentially making his campaign trademark – an iconic photograph that was never intended to (and never authorized) to serve such deplorable purposes,” the complaint states, filed on Sept. 26 with a federal judge in Washington.
Bigelow included a screenshot in his complaint of Garrett’s campaign website, with his photograph underneath the headline “Latest Terror Attacks Are Evidence of DHS’ Inability to Vet Refugees.”
The border photograph no longer appears on the article in question as of publication Wednesday, but the image is still on Garrett’s internet server.
Garrett’s name hangs at the top-right corner of the photo, with text below about his plan to “E.N.D. Illegal Immigration.”
The initial caps stand for: “Erect Southern Border Wall, No Amnesty/Benefits, Defund Sanctuary Cities.”
Bigelow says he was never asked for permission and never gave such.
“In fact, in light of the uses to which the defendants put the photo, Bigelow never would have granted any such permission,” the complaint states.
Bigelow goes on to call Garrett’s uses of the photo “anathema to him,” saying his reputation is now “impugned and damaged.”
Based in California, Bigelow notes that he contributed to Los Angeles Times coverage that won Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news: the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.
Bigelow has also worked with various nonprofits including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Teaching Tolerance whose opposition to right-wing causes is unequivocal.
The photographer has not responded to an email requesting for comment on the suit.
Seeking punitive damages, Bigelow is represented by Kenneth Norwick with Norwick & Schad in Manhattan.
Neither Garrett nor his campaign responded to a request for comment. Garrett was elected to represent Virginia’s 5th Congressional District last year, beating out Democratic candidate Jane Dittmar with 58 percent of the vote.