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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Once Again Accosted by Miami-Dade Metrorail Security Guards

 

We knew it was too good to be true; the way Miami-Dade Metrorail security officials informed us that they are now aware of the law that states photography at transit stations is permissible.

On Thursday, I was once again accosted by a Metrorail Security Guard from 50 State who bull-rushed me as if I were a matador.

The same security guard also bull-rushed Adam Mueller from Liberty on Tour, part of the activist duo who finally made it to Miami after traveling the country for the past few months in an RV.

The guard, whose name is Carlos Rodriguez, ended up grabbing Mueller's camera, attempting to shut it down.

He also tried to grab my camera, but I'm a veteran at these situations so I stepped aside or turned my back on him like a true matador.

When he realized we were not going to allow ourselves to be intimidated, he pulled out his own cell phone camera and took our pictures.

Considering the guy was armed, we're lucky that is all he pulled out.

We both smiled for the picture. I introduced myself. Adam waved.

The above video is a compilation of the footage I shot and the footage Adam shot. Adam put it together after I dropped him off at the RV.

So what does this all mean? Well, besides constant fodder for my blog, it means that there is a serious lack of communication within Miami-Dade County Transit and 50 State Security.

Last month, after two incidents in which I was either "permanently banned" from the Metrorail or outright assaulted by a security guard for shooting video on the premises, a local representative fired off a letter of complaint to Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess.

It took a couple of months, but Burgess eventually responded to Coconut Grove Village Councilman Stephen Murray, informing him of the following:

"MDT met with the security contractor and stressed the right of the public to photograph in the common areas of its public facilities. To that end, all contracted security officers have been retrained on the appropriate manner in which to enforce Miami-Dade County Code of Ordinances, Part III, Chapter 30B-5, governing photography on the transit system, and a copy of the aforementioned code has been placed at all MDT Metrorail security kiosks."

The right to take photographs on the Metrorail was also confirmed in a letter to the National Press Photographers Association from Eric Muntan, director of security for Miami-Dade Transit.

And it was only last month that I, along with a group of Miami photographers, visited the Coconut Grove Metrorail Station and after initially being told we were not allowed to take pictures, were informed that yes, we are allowed to take pictures inside the stations.

We were even shown a laminated copy of the law that they supposedly had placed at all the Metrorail stations.

And we were informed that every single security guard would be required to sign a notice that they are aware of the county law that allows photography and videography inside Metrorail stations.

But even then, we knew it was too good to be true.

If you're in the Miami area, Liberty on Tour activists Adam Mueller and Pete Eyre will be hosting a meetup Friday night at the Flanigan's Seafood Bar and Grill in Doral, 8695 NW 12th St Doral, FL 33126. This is in Miami-Dade County.

The event lasts from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Click here for more details.

Unfortunately, I won't be there because I will be in DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity.

 

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Philly Transit Cops Add Photog to Terrorist Database

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While some of us celebrated the fact that the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged last week that photographing public buildings is legal, most of us are unaware that the DHS is creating a national database of people committing “suspicious activity.”

This, of course, includes photographers.

Pennsylvania photographer Scott Frederick reports on his blog that he was confronted on Tuesday by two Philadelphia Transit police officers as he was taking pictures on his way down the stairs into the city’s subway.

The officers demanded his identification, informing him that he was going to be added to the “Terrorism Data Base.”

I asked if it was against the law to photograph in the underground, and he said some song and dance about the Madrid bombings, etc. I figured I was going to receive a citation or a warning. I was asked for ID, and I cooperated with the officer. He then began to tell me how I was going to be added to the Terrorism Data Base. I couldn’t believe my ears, but I didn’t want to start any trouble.

This database is described in detail on the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Federal officials are closer to establishing what amounts to a nationwide database of so-called “suspicious activity reports” that describe possible evidence of terrorist attack planning. Reports will be submitted not just by state and local police and agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, but also private corporations that control economic and infrastructure assets considered high-profile targets for terrorists.

A required public notice surfaced one day before the nine-year anniversary of Sept. 11 confirming that DHS would be finished implementing its own internal database of suspicious activity reports by mid-October. Contents will flow in from DHS personnel at the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Transportation Security Administration and other agencies housed in the department.

I guess the thing to do is to refuse to provide identification if you know you are not breaking the law.

This could get you arrested — even though there is no legal basis for it — but it could also overwhelm the officers into releasing you, as we have seen in the past.

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Judge Beth Dixon Does Not Deserve to be Reelected

It’s been almost two months since North Carolina judge Beth Dixon was forced to remove her Facebook campaign page after an onslaught of criticism from people who did not appreciate the way she trampled on the First Amendment.

Now with just over a week to go before the Rowan County District Court election, the two-term incumbent is hoping that local voters will not allow such petty memories to vote her out of office.

After all, since that controversial ruling in late August, the local media has virtually ignored this election.

However, I’ve just relaunched a Facebook ad campaign targeting voters in her area in the hopes that they will vote against her on November 2.

We don’t really know much about her opponent, Douglas A. Clark. He never responded to questions on his Facebook page about his opponent’s decision to convict a woman for refusing to step inside her house as she videotaped a traffic stop from her front porch.

And neither he nor his staffers responded to inquiries from Photography is Not a Crime seeking comment.

I understand that he may not be allowed to comment on specific cases, but it would have been nice to hear where he stood on public photography in general.

But he appears more concerned with getting people to put signs in their front yards.

And in that regard, he is no different than Dixon before she was forced to delete her Facebook page.

But as far as we know, he has never convicted a woman for resisting arrest as she stood on her front porch videotaping a traffic stop.

In November 2009, Felicia Gibson was one of numerous citizens in her neighborhood who had stepped out of their homes to observe a traffic stop in front of her house.

But she was the only one videotaping, which is why police ordered her to step back inside her home.

She continued videotaping, which prompted one of the officers to come after her.

She was arrested inside her home.

And she was convicted by Dixon last August in a questionable ruling that sparked an editorial in the local newspaper, the Salisbury Post.

The resisting-arrest conviction last week of Felicia Gibson has left a lot of people wondering. Can a person be charged with resisting arrest while observing a traffic stop from his or her own front porch?

Salisbury Police Officer Mark Hunter thought so, and last week District Court Judge Beth Dixon agreed. Because Gibson did not at first comply when the officer told her and others to go inside, the judge found Gibson guilty of resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer.

Gibson was not the only bystander watching the action on the street. She was the only one holding up a cell-phone video camera.

I initially launched the Facebook ad campaign against her in September and it ran for a few weeks before the money in my Paypal account ran out.

I just added another $100 to relaunch the campaign. If I get more donations, I can create more ads with different slogans. All you need to do is log on to Paypal and send money to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com.

The ads, posted below, lead to this Facebook page I created in her honor.

I figure most people don’t pay attention to politics anyway until a week before the election, so maybe this will have an impact.

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Former Cop Selling Dashboard Cams for Citizens


 

Barry Cooper, a former star narcotics officers turned pro-marijuana activist and internet salesman, will be selling a dashboard camera that can be installed in your car to protect you from cops during traffic stops.

The camera, which will conveniently be available a month before Christmas, seems like it captures high quality video and audio.

And it apparently can be rotated 360 degrees to capture what is going on in front of you as well as inside the car.

But there is one caveat.

He is asking buyers to upload the videos they shoot to his website so he can offer his “personal analysis.” 

Personally, I'd rather have those videos uploaded to Youtube or any othe site, then to my site where we can all offer our personal analysis.

But maybe this is just a suggestion and the video would not be built in a manner where we would have to depend on his site to upload it.

Because if that's the case, then the camera will be restrictive and possibly worthless.

At least one commenter on the Boing Boing article stated that he didn't trust Cooper because he had a "douchey sleazy used car salesman vibe" - among other issues.

There's something about that guy that just rubs me the wrong way... He's got this douchey sleazy used car salesman vibe, selling mail order dvd's and cheap chinese webcams.. It's all so gimmicky. It just seems like he's in it to make a buck, not actually giving any really useful advice, not having a whole lot of knowledge on the subject, just saying over and over again "I used to be a cop".

Apparently he's a bit of a sleazeball with his business practices too... A legitimate educated marijuana activist gave a negative review of his DVD's, to which he threatened lawsuits.

That comment prompted Cooper to respond with his own comment, stating he is nothing but  a hard-working family man on the verge of becoming a Hollywood star, even if he does have an annoying habit of spelling cops with the letter k:

I can tell you don't know me. There is a reason Bret Ratner in Hollywood is making a movie about my life. I have an Internet reality show called KopBusters where I bust crooked kops and our first sting resulted in Yolanda Madden being freed from federal prison. I've been retained as an expert witness regarding police misconduct 6 times and won all 6 cases for my clients. I have 3 cases pending. I just flew back from Florida after teaching two large lawyer conferences. Judge Napolitano recently endorsed my KopBusting efforts on FOX news. The advice I give in my video series, NeverGetBusted, has saved thousands of people from going to jail. Go get this issue of SKUNK magazine. I'm featured in it. I speak with the owners of Cannabis Culture Magazine, Marc and Jodie at least once a week.

Loretta Nall is the lady who wrote that bad review four years ago and it's the only bad review out of more than 50. That should tell you something about her review.

I have four kids. Two of my daughters are in college at the ages of 14 and 18.

I'm not those things you say I am.

What have you done for the movement?  

So Cooper, if you happen to read this, please send us a picture of the camera because I did not find it on your site and please tell us if we can just upload the videos to our own sites for our own personal analysis. 

Most of us on this site haven't been cops, but we've seen enough videos where we can make a pretty accurate determination ourselves.

Plus, we have Johnny Law who would be more than happy to give us his professional police analysis of the video.

Below is a picture of Cooper duking it out with a pig. I guess he's trying to tell us something.

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Woman Arrested in NYC for Videotaping Public Meeting

 

A woman who was videotaping a public meeting in New York City was arrested after she refused to turn off her camera.

Larisa Beachy was videotaping the meeting inside a public school when the head of the community board told her she needed a permit to film inside the building.

This caused the crowd of about 300 people in attendance to "grow wild," according to the New York Daily News.

The demand caused the crowd to grow wild. The police were called, and after Beachy refused to leave the school, she was arrested and given a summons for refusing a lawful order.

It is not clear why Noah Gotbaum, president of the District 3 Community Education Council, insisted she turn off the camera.

Nobody is denying that this was a public meeting.

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Political Hecklers Accused of Crime for Videotaping Officers

 

A pair of political hecklers were ejected from a Bill Clinton speech in Florida after consistently disrupting his speech with shouts of 9/11 being an inside job.

Once outside, police asked for their identifications, which they refused to provide because they claimed they had a First Amendment right to disrupt the speech.

That part is debatable because it is clear they were disrupting the event and possibly committing disorderly conduct.

But what isn't debatable is when an officer informed the men that they were committing a crime by videotaping the officers without their permission. The officer even attempts to confiscate the camera.

"If you are recording me, you are committing a crime," one of the officers states.

The men rightfully inform the officer that they are not committing a crime by videotaping them.

A sergeant then walks up and does not appear to be concerned about the videotaping, only about the fact that the men are refusing to provide identifications.

But he wasn't that concerned because he allowed them to walk away without further incident.

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Judge Bars Release of Video That Shows Police Beating

A surveillance video that allegedly shows a group of Houston police officers severely beating a 15-year-old suspect will not be released to the public, despite persistent requests from local media stations and newspapers.

U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. barred the release of the video because "in all likelihood it will repeatedly be streamed on television and the Internet into every home and venue, seen by millions of persons, and become the subject of pervasive opinioned commentary."

So what?

The final decision lies with the jury anyway, which will get to see the video. To say they are incapable of reaching an objective decision despite media commentary is saying they are incabable of serving on a jury in the first place.

The beating was apparently so severe that the seven officers involved were fired, instead of placed on paid administrative leave as is customary in these cases.

One of the officers is accused of running him over with a squad car. The officers then pounced on him and kicked and hit him repeatedly, which is being compared to the Rodney King incident by those who have seen it.

Four of those officers are now facing misdemeanor charges. If the video is as inflammatory as the judge confirms, then it is likely they should be facing felony charges.

And maybe that's the real reason the video is not being released.

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Toronto Cop Suing Over Mocking Videos

 

First, Constable Adam Josephs threatened to arrest a young woman for blowing bubbles in his direction during the G20 protest in Toronto earlier this year.

Now he is threatening to sue Youtube for "ridicule" over a series of cartoon videos that have been posted mocking his overly aggressive demeanor.

Josephs, who towers over his fellow officers, is asking for $1.2 million.

Apparently, someone blew something a little stronger in his direction than bubbles because he has clearly lost all sense of reality.

According to The Globe and Mail:

In his statement of claim, Constable Josephs alleges the cartoons have subjected him to ridicule, and have resulted in threats against himself and his family. He also seeks to compel YouTube to reveal the identities of the person who created and posted the cartoon – identified by the moniker “ThePMOCanada” – and the identities of several people who posted comments in response.

On Friday, his lawyer said the lawsuit was in its preliminary stages and he was still in discussions with YouTube to resolve it.

“This level of ridicule goes beyond what is reasonable,” James Zibarras said. “The reason we brought the lawsuit is that people have the right to protect themselves against this kind of harassment.”

The animations in question depict a policeman identified as “A. Josephs” arresting various people – including Barack Obama and Santa Claus – and beating up a news photographer while funk music plays in the background.

One of the defendants in the suit, a Canadian man named Todd Mara who left a comment under a username, is profiled in this piece by The Star.
While the original Youtube account broadcasting the cartoon videos has since been shut down, the videos can be seen on another Youtube channel titled MisterOfficerBubbles.

A Facebook page titled Officer Bubbles McButtHurt has also been created in his honor. As of this writing, it has 534 people who follow it.
The woman in the original video was eventually arrested although it is not clear if it was for the bubbles or for some other unrelated non-violent, non-criminal act.

Below is one of the cartoon videos showing Mister Officer Bubbles beating up a photographer.

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Video Shows Miller's Security Guards Initimidating Other Journalists

Private security guards hired by Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller attempted to block reporters from videotaping a journalist they had detained for asking the wrong question.

The Drop Zone security guards informed the journalists that they had the right to eject them from the event — which was open to the public in a public middle school — because they had rented the location for the evening, thus making it a "private event."

The reporters did a good job on holding their ground even as security guards shoved them while accusing them of pushing into them.

That is a common tactic we've seen among security guards and ex-cops that have been featured on Photography Is Not a Crime, including the video of the former cop in California assaulting a news videographer as well as the Metrorail security guard who was shoving me.

One of the reporters insists that the Anchorage police officer who is in the background take charge, but that officer did nothing as the security guards took the law into their own hands.

 

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Oregon Cop Attempts to Intimidate Man Videotaping Traffic Stop

 

An Oregon man who was videotaping a traffic stop did not allow the officer to intimidate him with false laws.

Phil Logan-Kelly pulled over to document the traffic stop, remaining at a very well-respectable distance.

The Coquille police officer stormed up to him and demanded to know if he was being recorded.

When Logan-Kelly confirmed that he was being recorded, the officer told him he was "committing a crime" — which we all know is false.

Logan-Kelly calmly told the officer that he did not have an expectation of privacy, so therefore, no crime was being committed.

The officer then demanded his identification, but Logan-Kelly informed him that he was under no obligation to provide that either.

The officer then stormed off in frustration.

A couple of minutes later, the officer returned to write down Logan-Kelly's license plate number down without saying a word in a clear demonstration of intimidation.

The video once again demonstrates the importance of knowing and asserting your rights.

Earlier this year, an Oregon police chief announced that his officers would continue arresting people videotaping them even though the local city attorney said people had the right to videotape cops in public.

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