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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Virginia Police Arrest Photojournalist Documenting Occupy Richmond Crackdown

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A Virginia photojournalist was arrested early this morning while documenting a police crackdown on Occupy Richmond protesters.

Ian Graham, who was shooting for RVA Magazine, was arrested on charges on trespassing for crossing a public street outside Kanawa Plaza where protesters had been camping out since October 15.

That should get laughed out of court.

But, of course, it doesn’t matter to police if the charges stick or not because they were able to prevent him from documenting their actions.

I was there to photograph the police dissemble the occupation, and therefore what many call the trampling of the first and possibly second amendments. The people assembled in a (literal) public square, were paid lip service to by local authorities, and on the last morning of October, the local police were forced into thuggery by an order from on high. Again, I was not at Kanawa Plaza to make a political statement, I wanted to take some pictures... and instead, I got arrested for crossing the fucking street. The official charge is of trespassing. There were people on both sides of the crosswalk where I was arrested, and none of them were arrested. But none of them had cameras, either.

Police arrested nine people altogether on trespassing charges, according to CBS 6 News.

Even though the above news report insinuated that Graham was part of the movement, he clarified on Twitter that he was only there to do his job.

2 things I want to make clear: I do not speak for the #rva occupation, and I believe my arrest was motivated by my camera.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

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NPPA Asking DC To Change Policy That Can Be Used To Target Photographers

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Even though the Washington Post assured we had nothing to worry about regarding a policy that allows police to arrest photographers who spend more than five minutes at a single location taking pictures, the National Press Photographers Association wasn’t too convinced.

So earlier today, Mickey Osterreicher, general consul for the NPPA, sent a letter to the city’s district attorney, asking him repeal the current policy and offering to work with the city in establishing a policy that is not so vague and broad where it could subject anybody with a camera to arrest.

The policy is meant to target street photographers who prey on tourists, according to the Washington Post, which states that “as long as you don’t make a living hustling tourists for snapshots, you can snap away without keeping an eye on your watch.”

But we’ve all seen cops abuse laws in the books to harass innocent citizens with cameras.

Osterreicher, who has sent countless letters to various agencies in the last few months, working with several departments to revise their photo policies, stated the following in this morning’s letter:

Given the recent penchant for police to interfere with, harass and in many cases arrest photographers (i.e. D.C. Taxicab Commission meeting), the NPPA is concerned that these infringing regulations would provide the police with unbridled discretion to abridge the rights of photographers covering such events as “Occupy Wall Street” or any situation involving “photography of any person(s)” or lasting longer than five (5) minutes in any one location. Nationwide, photographers are increasingly subject to harassment by police officers, who, under color of law, cite safety and security concerns as a pretext to chill free speech and expression or to impede the ability to gather news. In that regard I would direct your attention to a recent decision by the First Circuit where the court recognized “the fundamental and virtually self-evident nature of the First Amendment’s protections” of the “right to film government officials or matters of public interest in public space.”1

It is our position that these facially defective regulations will only further contribute to the erroneous belief by law enforcement that public photography may be arbitrarily limited or curtailed. We  therefore respectfully request that these regulations be repealed immediately. In the alternative, we propose to work with your office to draft revised language that would be more narrowly tailored to serve a substantial government interest as a reasonable time, place and manner restriction on commercial photography.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

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Occupy Wall Street Protester Threatens To Stab Reporter

An Occupy Wall Street protester was arrested Friday after he threatened to stab a news reporter in the neck with a pen.

The protester also tore the microphone out of the reporter’s hand, dismantling it in the process.

The reporter, John Huddy from WYNW, an affiliate of Fox News, did a great job of maintaining his composure while not backing down.

He even stressed in his report that the incident was isolated and not a representation of the entire Occupy Wall Street movement, which he has been covering for weeks now.

Huddy describes the incident beginning at 1:55 in the above video. You will also see footage of the moments after the confrontation where Huddy is making a stand despite having just been assaulted and threatened.

The man who attacked him, Dustin Taylor, 34, of Ohio, can also be seen in the above video and it’s obvious he’s not all there.

Taylor, who can be seen being led away by police, was charged with grand larceny, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

 

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Journalist Arrested Covering Occupy Rochester Protest

A student journalist documenting the arrests of Occupy Rochester protesters Friday night was arrested himself, even though he clearly identified himself as a journalist.

Jonathan Foster, 20, was even wearing a shirt that said “Reporter,” showing he was on assignment for Reporter Magazine, the weekly publication from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

I contacted Foster for an interview on Saturday, but he didn’t want to go on the record.

However, he gave an interview to a local news station, which you can see in the video above starting at 1:28.

Rochester police arrested 32 people altogether, mostly because they refused to leave Washington Square Park by the 11 p.m. curfew.

It was the first time police in New York enforced a curfew on Occupy protesters.

It may also be the first time since the Occupy protests started springing up around the country that the city’s police chief was making the actual arrests.

Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard even arrested Emily Good, the woman who made international headlines this year when she was arrested for video recording a cop from her front yard.

The protesters returned to the park Saturday night, remaining until midnight when police ordered them to leave.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

 

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Journalist Uses Flip Camera To Document Own Arrest

A reporter for the Nashville Scene was interviewing protesters with a Flip camera when he was caught up in a mass arrest at an Occupy Nashville protest.

The protesters were standing in front of Legislative Plaza where they had been camped out for three weeks.

Jonathan Meador can be heard identifying himself as a journalist, but the cop handcuffed him anyway.

One cop can be heard telling another cop to book him for “resisting arrest.”

Meador ended up being booked on public intoxication, which was never part of the conversation during the arrest.

And he comes across extremely sober while interviewing the protesters before his arrest.

The video reminds me of my second arrest for taking photos of cops in which I was initially charged with disorderly intoxication, a charge that was later changed to resisting arrest, which I ended up beating in court when the cop didn’t show up.

I describe that arrest here (scroll down to middle of story):

They charged me with disorderly intoxication, which requires a suspect to be carrying a drink in public as well as causing a public disturbance. I was not carrying any booze and asking a cop for his name is hardly creating a public disturbance. And neither is taking his picture for that matter.

I ended up spending the night in jail with a bunch of other guys arrested on baseless charges on Miami Beach.

Meador was among 25 people arrested that night whose charges were quickly dropped by a night court judge who took the time to research the law.

"I have reviewed the regulations of the state of Tennessee, and I can find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza," Judge Nelson told a grimacing trooper, before ordering the immediate release of everyone arrested.

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NYPD Cops Turn On Media Covering Arraignments Of Fellow Officers

 

Hundreds of New York City cops crammed into a courthouse Friday in support of fellow officers accused of crimes, blocking photojournalists from accessing the courtroom, including one instance of grabbing a videographer's lens and shoving him backwards.

Court officers, who allowed the officers into the hallway outside the courtroom, also prevented the media from accessing the same hallway.

And even before that, the 16 officers accused of crimes were spared the customary “perp walk” where the media is allowed to document defendants entering the courthouse.

But prosecutors expect us to believe they will receive a fair trial.

According to The New York Times:

The unsealed indictments contained more than 1,600 criminal counts, the bulk of them misdemeanors having to do with making tickets disappear as favors for friends, relatives and others with clout. But they also outlined more serious crimes, related both to ticket-fixing and drugs, grand larceny and unrelated corruption. Four of the officers were charged with helping a man get away with assault.

But in the eyes of the hundreds of officers who stood outside the courtroom protesting, it was all just business as usual. Many held up signs stating “Just Following Orders."

The president of the police union, who had organized the protest, said ticket-fixing was something that has been “accepted at all ranks for decades.”

But the habit is so extensive that it has cost the City of New York almost $2 million.

Prosecutors were even looking into charging the union under the state's racketeering law, which is frequently used against organized crime families.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

 

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Dash Cam Video Shows Florida State Trooper Pulling Miami Cop Over At Gunpoint (Updated with unedited video with sound)

A Miami police officer was running late to his off-duty job, so he drove his squad car at speeds of more than 120 mph, refusing to stop for a Florida Highway Patrol officer who was trying to pull him over.

Miami police officer Fausto Lopez eventually stopped seven minutes after the trooper turned on her lights.

A dash cam video shows FHP trooper D.J. Watts approaching Lopez’s car with her gun drawn. She then handcuffs him and calls for backup.

Lopez was cited for reckless driving and released, according to the Miami Herald. He remains on active duty.

Hopefully, Watts won't get retaliated against for daring to pull over another cop.

The incident took place on October 11 in Broward County, indicating that Lopez not only lives in Broward but takes his squad car home with him.

Two months ago, Local 10 news did an expose on Miami-Dade police officers who live outside the county and and take their cars home, costing taxpayers $8 million.

UPDATE: I just included a new version of the video that is unedited and includes sound.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

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Alabama Cop Neglects Job Duty To Grab Photographer's Lens

An Alabama police officer was directing traffic around a traffic collision early Friday morning when he noticed a man pointing a camera at him.

That caused the officer so much concern that he left his post to confront the photographer - creating a potential traffic hazard - grabbing the man's camera as he ordered him to turn it off.

It turns out, the man with the camera, Ashley Sharer, has been the city’s main photographer for more than a decade, shooting mostly tourism-related photos for the City of Mobile. The same city that employs the cop.

“I was wearing a city badge around my neck that has the mayor’s signature,” Sharer said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Friday night.

“He said, ‘I don’t care what you show me, you can’t take photos of me.’”

Now Sharer said he is going to file charges against the officer for assault.

“He grabbed my lens, that’s assault,” he said.

Sharer said he intended to use the clip as stock footage. He ended up with a little more than that.

The cop should not only be investigated for assault, but for neglecting his duty as an officer when he approached the photographer, leaving nobody to direct traffic.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

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Canon Commercial Shows Stalking Is The Surest Way To A Woman's Heart

A Canon commercial that apparently aired in Thailand demonstrates that the surest way to a woman's heart is to stalk her every move with a series of Canon cameras.

Although our lovestruck protagonist doesn't appear to be breaking any laws as he hides behind bookshelves and art canvases with camera in tow, sneakingly documenting her as she goes about her day, his behavior would probably lead to a restraining order against him in the United States.

He starts off with a point and shoot, then works his way up to an SLR and eventually a camcorder - never once investing in a telephoto lens like an American stalker would do - yet never once mustering the courage to say hello to his muse.

He finally gets brave enough to leave an invitation on her locker, which she accepts.

And that is when he shows her the shrine he has built in her honor, complete with photos and videos of all the footage he has collected of her.

The commercial ends seconds before she flees the room in horror.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

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So Who’s Really Calling The Shots In Oakland (No Pun Intended)?

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First, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan supported the Occupy Oakland activists, stating they had the First Amendment right to demonstrate.

Then she changed her mind and agreed the camp needed to be shut down.

And now – amidst widespread criticism of Tuesday night’s police rampage against the activists and plans for a general strike on November 2nd – she is on their side again.

Especially now that a U.S. Marine who served two tours in Iraq was critically injured by a tear gas canister.

According to a statement she gave to the San Francisco Chronicle (click on link to read entire statement):

We support the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement: we have high levels of unemployment and we have high levels of foreclosure that makes Oakland part of the 99% too. We are a progressive city and tolerant of many opinions. We may not always agree, but we all have a right to be heard.

Quan was in Washington D.C. when Oakland police and other local law enforcement agencies, turned the city’s downtown into a war zone, firing rubber bullets, bean bags, tear gas and flash grenades at protesters who refused to disperse.

Police said they were responding to activists who were throwing rocks and bottles at them and one activist admits this took place, even though no videos have surfaced showing the extent of it.

Quan, who under the city charter has full authority as a strong mayor, denies she played a role in organizing the police assault.

She blamed City Administrator Deanna Santana and interim Police Chief Howard Jordan for the mayhem that resulted in a recall effort against her.

However, Jordan is so new, the Chronicle can’t even get his first name right, calling him Harold Jordan in this article and Howard Jordan in this article. It’s Howard, not Harold.

Here is a screenshot of their blunder.

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Jordan took over as interim chief earlier this month when Chief Anthony Batts suddenly resigned two years into his three-year contract.

Batts, 50, said an "overwhelming load of bureaucracy" and a lack of officers and resources to fight Oakland's severe crime problem contributed to his decision to leave a struggling department, which at the time he was hired had 796 officers, 150 more than it has now.

But sources close to the department say his tenuous relationship with Mayor Jean Quan and heat from a federal judge and police monitors -- who have threatened a federal takeover of the department over its incomplete, decade-long effort to reform -- also led to his decision.

In January 2009, it was Chief Wayne Tucker who suddenly announced his resignation under similar complaints.

Oakland's police chief, facing criticism over chronic violent crime and turmoil in the department, resigned as city leaders prepared to call for a vote of no-confidence.

At a hastily scheduled news conference, Police Chief Wayne Tucker said Tuesday he has "lost faith" in the City Council and accused members of failing to provide enough funding to help fight crime for the 803 officers in the force.

Quan, who became the first female mayor in Oakland history in January 2011, is probably closer to the activists’ idealism than any of her predecessors, having participated in sit-ins and demonstrations during the 1960s before becoming a union organizer

As a city council member and mayoral candidate in 2010, she participated in protests against the manslaughter jury verdict of Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle over the killing of Oscar Grant.

So she doesn’t exactly have a history of supporting strong-armed tactics from police.

So perhaps she didn’t know that several police agencies were joining forces to unleash a fury of aggression against protesters - under the guidance of an interim police chief - while she hobnobbed in D.C. for federal funds.

But if that’s the case, then she is nothing but a ceremonial mayor.

And that’s the last thing Oakland needs at the moment.


Please send stories and tips to carlosmiller@magiccitymedia.com

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