“Why wasn’t Carlos arrested?”
I’ve received that question several times, either on Facebook, Youtube or Miami Beach 411 where last week I documented police at my alma mater arresting several students for attempting to host a concert on campus.
It’s a valid question considering how the Florida International University cops were randomly arresting students but were pretty much leaving me alone as I interviewed the students on camera as they were getting arrested.
I did have a couple of close calls with one cop who insisted I stay back for “officer’s safety” but the handcuffs never came out (video below).
In fact, with the exception of that one cop, they pretty much ignored me, even as I asked them why they were arresting the students.
I think they left me alone because of my new camera, a Canon XA 10, which is the most professional (and professional looking) video camera I’ve ever owned, even though it is very compact.
The camera was a Christmas present to myself, putting me $2,000 in debt, but it’s already beginning to pay itself off considering I sold my footage of the arrests to Univision (who also interviewed me in that clip and yes, I speak Spanglish, not Spanish) and who now wants to use me as a stringer.
Not only did I have a shotgun microphone on the camera, which enabled me to capture audio from a distance, but I was wearing headphones and had my 5D dangling from neck as well.
The cops must have figured I was media and were smart enough to know that it would not have been wise to arrest me.
On the other hand, they are now being forced to explain why they arrested the students and their activist friends.
It all started when Occupy FIU students organized a concert on campus to raise awareness of rising tuition fees as well as commemorate the survivors of the Haitian earthquake, which struck exactly two years earlier.
They were joined by a few Occupy Miami activists, including a few who attend or have attended FIU.
And they had received permission from the university ombudsman to perform in a pit in the center of campus where musical groups frequently perform.
But when they started setting up, FIU police told them they would need a permit to perform.
So the students and the cops spent an hour negotiating as to what exactly is allowed in the pit.
At first, the cops said they could perform there, but without amplification, which the students agreed to do.
But then the cops said they couldn’t even do that without a permit, so they told them they could set up in another part of campus where they could perform without a permit.
The students had agreed to do this, but were not exactly packing up their gear and running towards the new spot.
But they were not performing either. They were just milling about as students do on campus, which is not illegal.
But the cops got it in their heads that they had to leave the area regardless, giving them a five-minute deadline to do so.
So as the students prepared to leave, one of them started talking on a megaphone, telling students to complain to the administrators about not being allowed to perform in the area where they originally had received permission.
The cops told him to turn off the megaphone, so he began doing the mic check that has become the common way of communicating at the Occupy encampments.
And that is when the arrests started taking place. Exactly five minutes after the five-minute warning.
But it was unreasonable to give them a five-minute deadline when they had all that musical gear to lug. They were in the process of packing it up when the arrests started.
At least six students and activists were arrested, including one guy who was moving a speaker.
The activists were charged with unlawful assembly/ interference with an educational institution, but it’s going to be hard to make those charges stick, judging by the university’s free assembly policy.
This pretty much is simply another case of contempt of cop where the students didn’t move fast enough for the cops’ satisfaction.
So check out the video of the arrests below in case you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ve posted it several times already. And here is my story on Miami Beach 411.
And turn your volume down because it’s a little loud. The mic is that good. I will address that issue as I get more comfortable with the camera. This is not my Flip.