The protest is on.
Dozens of photographers say they will show up to protest for the right to take photos on the Miami-Dade Metrorail – a right that is ensured by Miami-Dade County law.
The protest is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Douglas Road Metrorail Station, 3100 South Douglas Road. Basically, just go to the corner of U.S. 1 and 37th Ave., which is Douglas Road.
The plan is to meet in the parking lot, pay the $2 fare, enter the station through the turnstiles, then make our way up to the platform where we will board a train – all while taking photos or shooting video.
Some photographers will be traveling from other stations, so they will meet us inside.
It really doesn’t matter which train we board as long as we continue capturing the event with our cameras.
Hopefully, the security guards from 50 State will leave us alone because the law is on our side. But if they begin to harass anybody with a camera, it is essential that we document that interaction, preferably with video.
But let me reiterate: the law is on our side.
This is confirmed in a letter sent earlier this week from Eric Muntan, Chief of Security and Safety for Miami-Dade Transit, to Mickey H. Osterreicher, attorney for the National Press Photographers Association:
The law allows us to use hand-held cameras for personal or journalistic purposes without a permit as long as we are not using tripods, cables or stand-alone lights.
So let’s just keep it simple; hand-held cameras. And please don’t forget to charge your batteries and make sure you have plenty of memory card space.
As you can read from the above letter, there already is movement from the people in charge, but the point of this protest is to show them that this is not just about me or Stretch Ledford, who along with me was “banned for life” from the Metrorail for taking photos, but about everybody who rides the Metrorail and wishes to take photos or shoot video.
This protest is inspired by 2004 protest that took place in New York when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was proposing a ban on photography within the subway system. The MTA ended up dropping the proposed ban.
Incidents against photographers on the Metrorail are nothing new and date back to when Wackenhut was contracted by the county to do security on the trains. As you can see from the two photos I took below, one taken in 2007, the other taken in 2010, nothing has changed except the uniforms.
If you want to coordinate with me, send me an email at carlosmiller at magic city media dot com. I write it like that to prevent the spam bots from sending me loads of crap.
Maybe we can get a group together for an early lunch or something.
If you’re on Facebook, you can keep up with the dialogue here. You might have to friend me first.
For those of you wondering why it is so important for citizens to have the right to take pictures and shoot video on the Metrorail, think of the Oscar Grant case that took place on the Bay Area Rapid Transit System in January 2009.
A BART police officer ended up shooting an unarmed man in the back, killing him instantly. That officer was recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
While many believed he deserved a murder conviction, the fact that he went to trial in the first place can be attributed to the citizen videos that were uploaded to Youtube in the days following the shooting.
Had police confiscated every camera as they tried to do, we likely would have seen a completely different outcome.