Before I get back to the business of documenting incidents around the country (yes, I have been reading your emails), I need to thank certain people who have helped me along the way as I fought my legal battle.
Granted, the first legal battle is not complete because there is still a chance of it going back to trial. It’s up to the State Attorney’s Office to determine whether they want to continue spending tax dollars on refiling the resisting arrest without violence charge.
And I’ve already served my sentence, so I don’t see the point. But nothing surprises me down here, so I’m prepared for whatever they come up with.
All I know is that I won’t make the same mistakes I made during my first trial. And I won’t make those mistakes during my second trial of resisting arrest without violence.
Perhaps when I’m through, a clearer definition of resisting arrest without violence will be implemented into Florida case law. As it is now, it is unclear and illogical considering police are allowed to arrest people on this charge without an underlying charge to base it on.
So without further ado, I would like to thank the following:
Celeste Fraser Delgado and Rebecca Wakefield: These two ladies were running the now defunct website Category 305, whom I was on assignment for at the time of my arrest. Although they were a struggling startup, they were the first to provide legal funding to fight my case.
The South Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists: It was only a matter of days before Darcie Lunsford, president of the South Florida Chapter, contacted me and offered me their support. Julie Kay, who eventually replaced Lunsford as president, continued this support by acquiring grants from the national office. As a freelance journalist, it’s easy to be written off by mainstream journalists, but SPJ took up my cause, donating to my legal defense fund and protesting the judge when he used my blog against me during my sentencing. The irony is that I was a card-carrying member of the ACLU at the time of my arrest but not a member of SPJ. The ACLU refused to help me while SPJ reached out to me. Needless to say, I am no longer a member of the ACLU but I am a member of SPJ.
Glenna Milberg: Speaking of the mainstream media, Milberg was the only television reporter to report on my arrest, expressing surprise when none of the other stations did. She also showed up to my trial with a cameraman and has always been supportive of my battle. She has also written against police abuses on her blog.
Bob Norman: This investigative journalist from the Broward-Palm Beach New Times rarely covers issues in Miami because he has his hands full in South Florida’s northern counties. But he did come out in my defense on his blog, The Daily Pulp.
The Miami Herald: It’s easy to criticize my hometown newspaper for never mentioning my arrest in its print edition, but they did report about it on their crime blog. And unlike the stories that go into the print edition, which get deleted from their site in a couple of weeks, the blog posts still stand.
Jim Defede: Defede is one of the most notorious and hard-hitting journalists in Miami, having worked as a columnist for The Miami New Times and The Miami Herald before he was fired in a controversial incident involving a city commissioner who committed suicide in the Herald’s lobby. He had his own radio show at the time of my arrest and interviewed me on the air, then later again after my trial. Now he writes a column for CBS4.
The Raw Story: I used to write for this alternative news site about a year before I was arrested. They helped spread the news on a national level about my incident.
Thomas Hawk: Before I was arrested, I did not think of blogs as being very influential or informative. Thomas Hawk quickly changed that perception. This San Francisco photographer immediately took up my cause, even going as far as calling the Miami Police Department and obtaining the arrest report. He posted several articles on the arrest where it continued to get national attention.
Clare Vickery: When Clare Vickery heard of my arrest, she agreed to hold a fundraiser for my legal defense fund at her art gallery, Grace Cafe and Galleries in Dania Beach. Today, she does her best to promote local artists.
Arnold Trevilla: After spending thousands of dollars on a lawyer who withdrew from my case when I refused to accept a plea deal from the State Attorney’s Office, I was pretty much left without legal representation. However, I ended up talking to criminal defense attorney Arnold Trevilla who liked my case and was not afraid to take it to trial, unlike the previous lawyer. Trevilla even gave me an affordable deal. The Miami native who excelled in debate in high school proved to be one hell of a trial lawyer. Very feisty. The only reason I was convicted of that one charge was because the judge allowed irrelevant evidence to be admitted, which Trevilla objected to. He has since become a friend and is defending me in my upcoming trial.
Sr. Cohiba aka Cigar Mike: Before I went to trial, I would spend hours debating attorney Sr. Cohiba over politics on the internet; him being the right-wing Cuban-American from the Babalu Blog, me being the left-wing raging liberal. But that did not stop him from offering his help as soon as I posted my verdict online. In fact, he was the first to comment in the post that ended up generating 124 comments, which at the time, was the most comments I’ve ever received on a post (I’ve since have had several posts surpassing 200 and 300 comments). And he backed up his words when he guided me along the appeal process as I prepared my argument pro se. At first, the task was very intimidating but he gave me the confidence to proceed. He also would proofread all my arguments and motions, inserting the necessary legal jargon where it was needed. It didn’t take long before I caught on to the craft of writing legalese and flirted with the idea of law school.
Henry Gomez: He is also a right-wing Cuban-American from Babalu whom I would get into intense debates with. But he happened to be on jury duty the day of my trial and was able to sit in my trial after he was released. He remained there until midnight when the verdict was read, posting the news on my site, then writing a post about it on Babalu. This was a perfect example of New Media in action. Both him and Cohiba also donated to my legal defense fund, which proved that political ideology is not as divisive as it sometimes seems.
Absolute Video: Preparing an appeal requires transcribing thousands of documents. And in my case, much of it was done on tight deadlines because I was so busy writing the argument that I had no time in preparing the transcript. But thanks to the guys at Absolute Video, a couple who are photographers who began following my case, I was able to meet all deadines, even though it was hectic. On several occasions, they spent an afternoon transcribing, copying and binding several copies of my transcript which needed to be delivered before the end of the business day at the downtown courthouse. They took a personal interest in my case, giving me reduced rates for last-minute work when they normally charge extra for rush jobs.
My Readers: Without you guys, I would just be another empty voice speaking to myself. This is the only place I know of on the internet where left-wingers and right-wingers are able to agree on the topics at hand. You guys also gave me the motivation I needed to continue fighting this case, even though at times it was tempting to just let it go. And you gave me an education into New Media that I did not get in the years working for the Old Media. We’ve come a long way since I was criticized for being unable to “grasp the concept of a blog.” While we might not always agree on everything, we do agree on the main thing and that is the right to express oneself freely. It used to be said that you would never win a battle against those who buy ink by the barrel. Now it can be said that you will never win a war against those who’ve built an online rapport (or something to that effect).
My Critics: While some people have done their best to discredit me, they’ve only made me stronger. Most end up giving up. Some end up siding with me. A few remain, just to keep things interesting.
I know there are a few of you that I’ve missed, so I will add to this list as I think of more people.